Students share thoughts on Bellbrook’s exam exemption rules

By Eve Jamilkowski

Midterm exams begin Friday. Lots of confusion and annoyance is circulating in regard to the qualifications for acquiring an exemption card, a ticket that a student can use to exempt one exam of their choosing if they meet various requirements.  

Students were notified by email of the current exam exemption policy. Students may earn one exam exemption if they:

-Earn an A or A+ each quarter of the semester. No A- in any of the quarters in a semester.

-Have 98% attendance or better for the semester.

-Have three or fewer tardies during the semester.

-Students may not exempt the same exam both semesters.

-Catastrophic student injury or illness may be taken into consideration when determining eligibility for an
exemption card. Regular medical procedures will count toward the semester totals of absences or tardy
incidents listed above.

Some students are not a fan of the current exemption rules. “I didn’t receive an exemption card this year,” junior Demi Hotz said. “But the thing is I have a chronic illness and I missed too many days of school. But I think the fact that I have all A+’s, except for one B, and that I can keep up on my grades despite missing so much school means I’m a good student and I should still get a card.” 

According to Mr. Hann, Bellbrook principal, exam exemptions are offered as an incentive for students to maintain a high level of achievement in their classes. A school’s attendance rate is included on the state report card. There is also an obvious correlation between good attendance and learning. “90% of life is just showing up,” Mr. Hann said. “The current policy has been in place for many years and has been successful.” 

Hotz disagrees with the limit of three tardies and/or absences as part of the rules. People with chronic illnesses, such as herself who suffers from constant migraines, are encouraged to come to school even though they may be sick that day so that in the future they don’t have to take a midterm or final. “I think the other thing is, sometimes students who come from a poor family or whose parents are always away don’t have access to a doctor or can’t get a note, and it’s just a really stressful situation for them,” Hotz said.

Student Kameron Heft, also a junior, has similar thoughts. “Personally, I think the school should have learned during COVID that if you’re absent and still keep up your grades, the amount of absences shouldn’t matter,” Heft said. 

She adds that the rule hurts people who have illnesses or who experience the death of a loved one. She states both aren’t really something you can miss, especially those who are constantly sick from a chronic illness. If they have to miss so much school and can still keep up their grades, they should be allowed to be exempt. “We are pretty generous in implementing the current policy and take numerous factors into consideration. For example, we do not count days missed for funerals,” Mr. Hann said.  

According to the administration, the main purpose of exams is to make sure that students have retained the information they have learned during the semester. It also prepares them for future high stakes testing such as End of Course (EOC) exams, AP Tests and then finals and midterms in college. “I do think it helps you prepare well. It gets you into the idea of having to study so much material for one giant test, and it prepares and teaches students how to cram and/or study thoroughly, depending on the student,” Heft said.

Mr. Hann added that teachers and administrators are looking at certain aspects of the policy and may make a few tweaks for the 2023-2024 school year.

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