This year, PHS introduced a new final exam policy to the students. The policy was originally developed in speech teacher Carol Fullington’s speech class. The students wrote a proposal to change the attendance policy and offer possible incentives for those who met the requirements.
“As a class, we wanted to rewrite the attendance policy to clarify some of the scenarios that were not covered in the old Student Handbook. We also suggested the incentive program to reward students who attend school regularly,” said Fullington.
Principal Chad Johnson and Assistant Principal Fred Unsicker were extremely interested in the policy. After consideration, the two collaborated and presented the policy to the School Board, who approved.
The 2018-2019 Student Handbook reads, “Students who have missed two or less days (defined as days either Professionally Excused, Absent Unexcused or Absent Excused by Parent) in a class period and have earned at least 85% in the semester have the opportunity to forego the final examination in that specific class period.”
There are exceptions to this new policy, however. The Handbook also reads, “Students enrolled in dual credit courses/AP courses are still required to participate in the final examination in that course, final musical performances are still required in band/choir, etc… Each teacher will count final exams as 14% of the semester overall grade.”
The only student absences that will not count towards the two day incentive program are missing school to attend a field trip or an absence that is administratively excused. For example, a student working polls on election day would be administratively excused. The following absences are excused absences but count towards the final exam incentive policy:
- Bereavement or funeral for the death of an immediate or household family member
- Prearranged or approved college visit verified by admissions staff
- Prearranged or approved job shadow or work experience verified by management staff
- Personal illness verified by a physician
- Legal business verified by legal counsel, judge, probation or DCS
- Any absence covered under Indiana Code 20-33-2
“The purpose of the policy was to help improve our attendance as a school and to give the students an incentive to both try a little bit harder in their classes and to be at school more,” said Unsicker.
With this being said, what is going to happen to those students who do not have to participate in taking the final exam?
The student’s final exam will be excused and, therefore, will not count for or against them. The student’s final grade will be their grade at the end of the coursework, not including the final.
Students who believe taking the final exam may improve their overall grade are allowed to have the option, but if the student chooses to take the final, the grade will be recorded in the gradebook. They do not get to decide whether or not the teacher puts the final exam grade in the gradebook. In many cases, what the teacher does is going to be left up to their discretion.
At the end of each semester, Attendance Secretary Kim Bostock and Unsicker are going to be working together to create a list of the students eligible to opt out of the final exam. Each teacher is also going to be responsible for creating a list of their own to double check the work of Bostock and Unsicker. The student should also know if they are going to be eligible to opt out of taking the final exam as well.
“As an administration, we hope to accomplish both increased academic performance and increased attendance. The ultimate goal is to have our students present 98% of the time. Currently, our attendance is a little above 96% as a school. We also want to reward our students who perform well in their classes and are here at school all the time,” said Unsicker.
Story by Madison Street