Exam Policy Places Burden on Students


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Dear Editor:

Second semester began with a sigh of relief from the Class of 2015, after students learned that the traditional exam exemption policy was temporarily reinstated for their final term at Maggie Walker.

After a surprising announcement from school administration that any students not taking an AP test (regardless of whether or not the college they plan to attend will take the credit) would have to take the final exam, concerned students, parents, and teachers sprang into action to address the unpredicted alteration.

Firstly, we offer many thanks to all who voiced their concerns regarding the new policy–your actions truly contributed to the change.  Thanks also goes to our administrators, who were receptive to suggestions and understanding of the flaws in the policy implementation.

Parents, students and facutly alike simply feel misguided and uniformed when it comes to such vital issues as the school’s operating budget, personnel matters, or academic policy.”

As SCA Co-Presidents, however, we feel as though the work on this policy is not yet complete due to both the inequality which will impact successive classes and the light it sheds on other school policy decisions.

All parties interested in the resolution of this issue have expressed deep disappointment that this policy would allow students to exempt from the final examination of an AP class by paying a $91 fee, regardless of the results of their AP exam.

Fundamentally, this pressures students who have been admitted into a college which they know will not take their exam credit to pay for the exam anyway.  Students could elect simply to take the final exam, but families who can comfortably afford to pay their student’s way out of the test may simply choose this “easy way out,” and the student’s score on the exam will be of no consequence to his or her final grade in the course.

Thanks also goes to our administrators, who were receptive to suggestions and understanding of the flaws in the policy implementation.”

While we recognize and greatly appreciate the funds that Maggie Walker has reserved for the examination fees of students who cannot afford these tests, the majority of students fall between the extremes of qualifying for school aid and being able to spend hundreds of dollars without any significant financial burden.  There is an intrinsic inequality in being able to “buy out” of a final examination.

Although we consider this recently-unveiled exam policy to be an issue of concern in and of itself, it nonetheless reflects a broader lack of transparency with regard to important administrative decisions at Maggie Walker.  Parents, students, and faculty alike simply feel misguided and uninformed when it comes to such vital issues as the school’s operating budget, personnel matters, or academic policy.

Serious concerns from members of the Maggie Walker community are rarely addressed publicly:  many students and parents feel that their questions are either put off indefinitely or only partially addressed.  While we understand that an administrator’s job at a nationally-respected high school brings with it a busy schedule and immense responsibility, this school’s success is founded upon the ways in which it responds to the unique needs of its student body.

As a result, we urge the administration to take advantage of this opportunity to be open and responsive to the concerns of the Maggie Walker community.

Fundamentally, this pressures students who have been admitted into a college which they know will not take their exam credit to pay for the exam anyway.”

Altogether, the recent uproar over exam exemptions has offered an excellent opportunity for Maggie Walker to scrutinize more carefully the ways in which it develops and implements important policies.

While we appreciate the temporary stay which administration has granted on behalf of the Class of 2015, this exemption protocol cannot simply lie dormant until next February, when the Class of 2016 will face AP registration with collegiate concerns in mind.

We urge that open deliberation on a future policy change begin immediately, so that the concerns of students, parents, and educators may be appropriately incorporated into the revision of this policy.

Again, we thank the administration at Maggie Walker for their support and consideration in this matter, and we look forward to taking an active role in upcoming reform of this policy.

On behalf of all current and future Maggie Walker students,
Ellie Palazzolo and Raleigh Browne, SCA Co-Presidents

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Exam Policy Places Burden on Students