During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Wake County’s senior exam exemption policy took center stage. Many parents, students, and teachers questioned its fairness and effectiveness in keeping up the attendance of seniors.
In the block schedule used at Leesville and many other Wake County schools, seniors are exempted final exams not authorized by the state if they have an “A” for a class and no more than three excused absences, a “B” and no more than two absences, or a “C” and only one absence.
Alexa McMahon, senior “loves” the policy. “It’s a win-win for teachers and students. For the teachers, it gives students incentive to come to school and for the students, it sort of defines seniority by giving us special privileges for our final year,” she said.
The exemption policy does have its flaws, however, and the seniors seem to be the ones suffering its consequences.
Nicole Benson, senior, recalls being in a classroom full of sick seniors due to the exemption policy.
“I was surrounded by people blowing their noses and coughing up their lungs. Clearly, they all needed to go home, but they wouldn’t because they didn’t want to take their exams,” she said.
“It’s frustrating because all they were doing was making everyone sick. If the policy wasn’t so restrictive, people would actually be able to come to school healthy.”
Abby Jenkins, senior, ran into a drawback of the policy after being rushed to the hospital earlier this year for a sudden illness.
“I ended up being in the hospital for four days recuperating, and then had to end up taking my exams because I was in the hospital,” she said.
“It was totally unfair because I was passing my classes with A’s and still had to take my exams all because I wasn’t at school. It’s ridiculous.”
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, it was announced that Wake County high school principals and administrators are working on a waiver allowing seniors to note “extenuating circumstances,” so that certain absences won’t be counted against exemptions allotted to seniors.
Extenuating circumstances include medical reasons, a death in the family, and rare educational experiences.
“I really hope they change the policy because it’s not worth all the stress that goes into coming to school sick,” said Jenkins.
Next year, seniors will hopefully be able to stay home when they are sick but still be able to be exempt from their exams.