New Exemption Policy Announced at High School, Senior High School

Decision by district to increase testing faces backlash


Carroll ISD has made the decision to change its exemption policy, with exemptions only being allowed for seniors in the spring semester. In previous years, the policy was to allow freshman and sophomores to exempt their finals, and junior and senior exemptions for both semesters. Students were also automatically exempt from finals in classes they took AP exams in. The decision went out in an email to students and families on Sept. 8.

“After a number of years and a number of variations to the high school exam exemption practice, Carroll ISD is returning to its original intention for this motivating measure,” the email’s first paragraph read. “Beginning with the 2022-23 school year … there will be no exemptions offered in December for seniors and no exemptions will be offered during either semester for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.” 

The email was sent through district communications and signed by both senior high principal Ryan Wilson and high school principal Christina Benhoff. 

The day after the decision was announced, a pre-scheduled pep rally was held at the senior high school to celebrate raising money for Dragons Give Back, a charity to fight childhood cancer, after which students were planning on walking out of class to protest.

“[The pep rally] was a bit clouded due to the social media traffic last night and students wanting to walk out,” Wilson, who requested students not walk out, said. “Pep rallies are ways to cheer people up and I want people to be excited that we raised $1,500 for the charity.”

The walk-out ultimately did not happen, but many students have continued to share worries about this policy.

“Reading that email, immediately all I could think about was how much stress this was about to be,” Grayson Davidson (10) said. “I know this was probably a hard decision to make and I also know the school needs funding from attendance. I just wish they considered how this would affect our mental health, especially since the school’s been emphasizing it so much. This year I’ll have to take four AP exams and eight finals. It’s too much, especially considering how much pressure there is to keep taking these AP classes to get ranked.”

A petition created by a student on to reverse the policy garnered over 1,500 signatures within the first three hours of its creation. As of Sept. 11, 2,693 people have signed the petition and many have left comments sharing how they want the policy to be amended.

“If it’s the money they lost due to fallen attendance that has caused the change in policy, it is unreasonable to completely wipe out exemptions for all grades,” Makenna Kao (12) commented on the public petition. “They should just include attendance in exemption consideration. It would motivate students to come to class, the district would get its money, and everyone would be happy, including the underpaid teachers that wouldn’t have to make a completely new exam.”

Others have expressed their anger at this policy and how it will affect the student body.

“Why has Carroll ISD been so persistent in torturing us students and deteriorating our mental healths?” Kavin Vijay (11) commented on the petition. “In the three weeks since schools has started, I have seen tears being shed, dozens of people asleep in class (directly affecting academic performance), and even desperate suicidal wishes being made before tests. This is a normal week at Carroll Senior High School. Does Carroll ISD care about it’s [sic] students? The answer is a definite NO. For a check, these higher-ups will do anything.”