Exempt from EOCs
Right now, students in Texas need to pass 5 end of course (EOC) tests to graduate: biology, algebra I, English 1, English 2, and U.S. History. The current senior class – the class of 2015 – was the first class I taught as sophomores in the 2012-2013 school year. It is also the first class to graduate entirely on the new standardized testing requirements. The year I started teaching, they changed the requirements from 15 (!) to 5 tests. Despite offering remedial tutoring, test prep classes during the school day, multiple retest opportunities, and lots of encouragement (and a little bribery…pizza, mostly), we still have seniors getting ready to graduate who have passed all their classes but have failed one or more EOCs.
Next week, I, along with many other teachers, will sit down with an administrator, the student, his parents, and other teachers in my subject and decide if he gets the option to graduate. The state requires they do something – a portfolio, project, extra remedial work, etc – to “prove” their desire to graduate. Unfortunately, several of our students who were unable to pass dropped out, believing they wouldn’t get a diploma.
When our committee considers whether or not to give them another opportunity for a diploma, we consider their attendance, attitude (Did they come to the summer retest days? Did they hide in the bathroom when we tried to pull them from class for tutoring?), and class work (apparently AP classes can be taken into account, though rarely are these AP students). While most students will get the green light to walk – and complete other requirements in order to obtain the actual diploma – it’s still a scary thing to have the weight of graduation in our hands.
Exempt from Finals
“I want you to be aware that the Abington School District does not recognize family trips as an excused absence, regardless of the activities involved in the trip…The dates that the children were absent were recorded as unexcused.” (SOURCE)
While obviously I don’t know the policies of Abingdon School District, I know our school’s policies, and I’ve heard my kids moan about what constitutes “unexcused” when it comes to spring exemptions. School events (games, academic competitions, stock shows) do NOT count against exemptions. The first absence with a doctor’s note does not count against exemptions. But the second and third one do count against exemptions, even if they are technically “excused.”
The whole point of exemptions, from the school’s end, is to keep kids in school. Our funding is tied to the percentage of students we have present that day. Higher attendance = more money. More money = more resources. More resources = better school for your kids. Bonus, kids in school tend to get better grades than kids with attendance problems. I know in the past we’ve tried incentives for attendance – giving away iPods, for example, or gift cards to Walmart or the local diner.
“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.”
Happy Friday, y’all.