Seniors struggle to attain exam exemptions

Julia Kocsis, Assistant Editor

Athens Drive Magnet High School is one of the many public schools in Wake County that supports a senior exemption policy on exams. This exemption applies only to teacher-made exams and does not apply to state exams. Still, it has become a standard that seniors rely on in order to bypass taking an exam.

The requirements for exemption as described by Wake County Public Schools are, “An “A” average with 3 or fewer excused absences for the course, a “B” average with 2 or fewer excused absences for the course, and a “C” average with 1 or fewer excused absences for the course.” If any of these absences are unexcused, the student is not exempt from their exam.

The idea of a senior exemption policy sounds helpful, but it is incredibly difficult to attain. Throughout a semester of high school, students often encounter illnesses, emergencies, trips and family obligations that will result in unavoidable absences. In addition, seniors are only allowed two excused college visits.

These circumstances, and plenty of other common reasons for absence, prevent many students from achieving their exemptions. This is usually out of the student’s control and can be extremely frustrating and discouraging. The struggle to stay below the absence limit causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for students throughout the school year.

Forcing high school students to attend their classes in order to reach an incentive seems childish. After all, many seniors will be going off to college, a job, or the military next year. These new paths do not force attendance- you either show up or not and have to face the consequences. Forced attendance does not effectively prepare students for life after high school.

If a student has an A or a high B grade in a class, they should not have to take an exam to prove their knowledge on the subject, because they have already proven that they have mastered the material. Instead of exempting students from exams based on high attendance, they should be exempted on the basis of their high grade. Requiring academically proficient students to take yet another exam to prove their skill is frivolous and pointless.

Another issue that arises concerning the fight to stay under the limit of absences allowed is the spread of illness. Students often get sick with contagious illnesses, but still come to school in order to not be marked absent and lose their exemptions. This causes both a personal inconvenience for the student that is sick and a danger to the other students at school. If contagious students come to school, they will likely spread their illness to more students. This can cause a hazardous outbreak across the school and lead to a decrease in attendance; which backfires on the original incentive of senior exemptions.

Senior exemptions are a good idea in theory, but the extreme limit on absences makes them relatively unrealistic for many students.