Attendance changes for students taking AP and IB exams add additional stress to a month filled with school commitments

by Cassie Lowery, ’13

May has always been a hectic time for students and staff with the end of the year fast approaching, in addition to the disrupted class schedule as students take their AP and IB exams. While this year has undoubtedly been the same, students also adjusted to new attendance expectations.

Principal Emilie Greenwald explained last year’s policy for AP/IB tests.

“Students [were] released for half days . . . allowing them to self-select times for studying,” Greenwald said.

This year however, students are expected to attend all classes unless they are taking an AP/IB exam, in which case students are excused for that entire day.

Senior Lauren Stechschulte who took five AP tests both this year and last year, said she enjoyed the opportunity to take a half-day to study; she is unhappy with the change.

“I liked having the half day off before the test to study,” Stechschulte said. “Having it after the test does not improve my test score. It will probably just make it harder for me to concentrate during the test because I will be impatiently waiting for when I can go to lunch and hang out with my friends.”

Greenwald explained that the old policy resulted in confusion and complicated attendance, causing the administration to re-evaluate the system and adjust the policy.

“The policy change for AP/IB testing came about from trying to simplify when students are expected to be at school,” Greenwald said. “It enables students and staff to have a clear understanding of when students should be in the building.”

Stechschulte doubts this will be the case; she said students may find their own way to take a study day.

“In all honesty, I think [this policy change] may make attendance more complicated since so many people are just planning to call in ‘sick’ the day before their tests,” she said.

As Stechschulte said, with so many students now out for days at a time, she often has found herself in a class with only five or so kids, making it difficult to continue with normal lessons.

Greenwald said a possible future change may be moving towards something known as a “May term”, where students finish with standard classes earlier and are then free to take electives for the remainder of the year.

“I think [a May term is] something we may investigate in the future. The challenge is what we do with all students, those who are involved in AP/IB testing and those who are not,” Greenwald said. “Some of what may also drive the discussion of a May term is end-of-course exams and when they will be given. We anticipate those replacing the OGT starting in the 2014-2015 school year, but we don’t yet know when they will be or how we will administer them, electronically or on paper, like the OGT.”

Regardless of what changes might be made in the future, Greenwald said she believes the school has continued to run smoothly.

“May is a little nutty with so much testing and with all of the senior activities for the end of the year, but our staff and students do a great job of adapting to the schedule,” Greenwald said. “[This month] gives staff the opportunity to pursue additional topics of interest with their classes.”