Opting Out, Grade Weighting, and Timing
Due to parents forgetting to call in their child's excused absences, many families in the district felt that students were being punished for their parents' negligence. This resulted the Administration removing all opt outs for Sophomores and Juniors. Seniors, however, can waive any and all second semester tests if they have a B or above in the class.
According to Valley Administrators, final exams will be reviewed to combat a feeling of punishment among students and to prevent grades from suffering due to finals.
AP Classes are different still due to their increased difficulty. If a student chooses to take the AP Exam in May for their advanced class, their final grade is evaluated on a 5.0 scale: a final grade of a B is equivalent to a 4.0 GPA, an F results in a 1.0 GPA, and an A is equivalent to a 5.0. This allows students who take numerous AP Classes to earn GPA's much higher than a 4.0.
Before the break causes issues with the attendance policy
Finals have been both before and after Winter Break in the past, but that has changed because of a new bill passed by Governor Branstad
After the break causes inconsistencies with college final exams
Final Exam Timing
During the summer of 2015, Governor Terry Brandstad signed a bill mandating that schools cannot start earlier than August 23rd, or the end of the Iowa State Fair. This affects the end of the semester in regards to Winter Break. During the 2015-2016 school year, finals will fall after Winter Break, at the true end of the semester. This gives students more time to study over the break, should they choose to.
Pass/Fail and Audit Course Options
Additionally, students have the option to audit their courses. This allows them to experience the class without needing to take the final exam, along with all the other benefits of Pass/Fail courses. However, auditing a class means that the class counts for no credit towards the student's GPA.