During the week of Nov. 27, students at FHN could be seen walking hurriedly down the halls and holding neon pink pieces of paper, trying to beat the Dec. 1 deadline for these forms. This neon pink paper was the key to them exempting their winter finals, but this year exemption rules came with a twist: students could now exempt their AP class winter finals, with the exception of Government, Biology and English II.
“I had heard that there was a student starting a petition to allow the AP classes to exempt exams,” Associate Principal, Dr. Katie Greer said. “I talked to that student and asked what was going on and they said that the other two high schools [FHC and FHHS] students are allowed to use their EOC exemptions that were earned and then the ACT exemptions they earned for the first semester AP final exams.”
After asking different AP teachers, Greer found out that the AP teachers, as a group, decided to not let students use those exemptions. The reasoning, so the students could practice for the AP exam and then teachers could use the data from the final to better serve their classes. This reasoning is why first semester exemptions are still not allowed in Government, English II and Biology classes. After these talks, Greer then contacted the other high schools to confirm what she had heard and found out that it was true.
“I met with all our AP teachers and we discussed our current policy, of not allowing,” Greer said. “Then we discussed the opportunity for the students to use those and some pros and some cons on both sides.”
The AP teachers had until Monday morning, on Nov. 20, to vote to approve the change or keep things the same. The change passed which left many AP students relieved for their finals. Junior Arianna Chaves was among the students relieved, because she is in multiple AP classes and this will help relieve a little stress.
“I am a huge supporter of exemptions for AP exams,” Chaves said. “I filled out the forms and turned it all in, but I was told that I could pull my exemption later on. So, if my grade is high enough then I’ll just pull it, because I don’t need to exempt it.”
The catalyst that prompted this change was none other than a writing prompt in AP Language and Composition teacher Kristen Johnson’s AP classes. The prompt discussed the differences in policy between FHN, FHC and FHHS. The prompt was meant to help students practice writing toward an audience and students at first thought it was just a creative prompt. When they found out it was true, they became quite angry.
“The reason I did that [the prompt] was probably more of a teacher move than anything to do with the AP exemption thing,” Johnson said. “A student will be more interested in writing if it’s something they feel passionately about, so I’m always trying to think ‘How can I make this more engaging?’”
Even though students are exempting the final, some teachers will still let the students take the test, but not count it as a grade. This is so that students can still get a feel for the AP test, but not risking their grade in the process.
“If students want that [taking the test], yes, definitely,” Johnson said.