No Return for Exam Exemptions

By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief

Exam exemptions will not be back this school year.

With the removal of Galileo testing, an opportunity arose to restore an old West Bend High Schools policy regarding semester exams.

In September the West Bend School District brought in STAR 360 Assessments to replace the former standardized testing system known as Galileo. Galileo relied on data collected during the end of semester exams students took twice a year. As a result, the traditional option to exempt certain exams was not available students.

In the past, students could exempt up to two exams provided they had an A in the class and a good track record for attendance. In addition, they could not have any school disciplines or detentions. Once the student’s teacher and an administrator signed off on the exemption request, the student did not have to take the exam. That policy ended four years ago with the institution of Gains testing, a precursor to the Galileo system.

Since STAR testing does not require any data from semester exams, some students and teachers have wondered about whether exam exemptions could be reinstated.

“We had a discussion this year, but it wasn’t a real deep discussion,” West principal Ralph Schlass said.

There are advocates both for and against exam exemptions.

“We have [teachers] who have liked them,” Schlass said. “They feel like it rewards students for their hard work and making good choices.”

East senior Hunter Winklebauer agreed, saying that the exemptions are beneficial.

“If a student has already been tested several times they have proven they know the material,” he said.

Melissa Garcia, a 2014 East graduate who remembers the old policy, said that the exemptions were key to success during exam week, since they gave students more time to study for other exams.

Schlass indicated that exemptions might have a downside.

“Exams being 15 percent of the grade often does not change an overall grade, but they can,” Schlass said. “That’s a reason why some teachers think they should be taken. And you would hope that it would bump them up. I don’t want to see students’ grades go down. But it is really up to the student at that point to study.”

As for Advanced Placement exams, a student with an A or B in the class may still exempt the semester exam as long as they take the College Board exam.

(Image: By Elqris (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) ], via Wikimedia Commons.)

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