411 on finals

Lauren Kriss

Finals can be confusing, especially since there are two new sets of policies. While the juniors and seniors carry on with TAKS testing and the old graduation requirements, the underclassmen are facing a new state assessment known as STAAR.

The STAAR EOC (End of Course) exams will be a graduation requirement for the class of 2015 and lower, and because 15 STAAR EOCs are needed to graduate, all underclassmen will be denied exemptions in any of their core classes. However, since EOC testing is not available for electives, all students will have the ability to exempt either their semester final or their course final in all elective classes as long as they meet their attendance and grade average requirements.

There are multiple exemption requirements, starting with students not being able to have over three absences in one class if they wish to exempt that class. In addition, three tardies equals one absence.  However, students must also maintain a certain GPA. If someone has 1.00 or less absences he or she only needs a 70 or higher in that class to exempt. Keep in mind that each tardy is worth 0.33 of an absence. If a student’s absences and tardies equal between 1.33 and 2.00, an 80 is required. With 2.33-3.00, one must maintain a grade of 90 or above in that class to exempt their semester final.

It has previously been unclear what semester exams will actually count for. According to Principal Barbara Spelman, they will make up one-seventh of semester averages.

There has been controversy due to the underclassman inability to exempt finals in core classes. Many students, including freshmen Madison Hines, feel the new policy is unfair.

“When the seniors were freshmen they didn’t have to work as hard as us because we have to take the STAAR test,” Hines said. “They got to exempt core classes but we don’t.”

Assistant Principal Teresa Back believes it is for students’ own good.

“[The] exams prepare you for college and you aren’t overwhelmed by them later,” Back said.

Other students see the school board’s choice as justified too.  Junior Parker Jones understands why the underclassmen got their exemptions taken away by the school board.

“It’s unfair but also fair because if they want to get rid of exemptions there has to be a cutoff point,” Jones said.

However, Jones doesn’t agree with all the new rules regarding finals. He, like other students, is unhappy that he has to attend class on the day of the final even if he is exempt.

“I think it’s a pointless rule,” jones said. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to leave.”

Some people are concerned that the new exemption policy will cause a drop in attendance because underclassmen can’t exempt no matter what their grade point average or attendance record is. Again, Back disagrees.

“People will have good attendance because of state law,” Back said.

Finals start Tuesday with third and fourth period.  Seventh and eighth period finals will be on Wednesday. Thursday, students will have an extended den time for studying and senior project presentations followed by second and first period exams. Friday will be a half day with exams in sixth and fifth period with the final bell ringing at 12:04 p.m.