Opinion: CHS should excuse students from classes during AP testing

CHS admin has cracked down on attendance policies this year, and its policy on AP tests is no exception. Last year, students were excused from the remainder of their classes on the days of their AP exams, but this year, students must show up to class either before or after their AP testing period. Because three-hour AP exams are draining enough for students who have already put in a year’s worth of academic effort, CHS should return to its previous policy and excuse students for the remainder of the school day.

According to CHS Assistant Principal of Curriculum Carina Diana, CHS and LVUSD as a whole are emphasizing attendance with an intent of returning to basic pre-COVID attendance policies and ensuring students are in school, learning. While CHS admin is aware of the hard work and effort students put into their studies, state codes mandate adequate attendance.

“We are cognizant of the fact that [students] are working really hard to study for these exams […], so we’re trying to be proactive to show the importance of the test and the importance of attendance,” said Diana. “We’re trying to help the students not go against California Ed Code.”

The California Education Code, among many other education guidelines, includes illness, doctor’s appointments and funerals, among others, as excused absences. Taking an AP test is not a reason to go home — that is, for an excused absence.

Despite these statewide guidelines, if students want to be at home before or after an AP, they will find a way to go home. Therefore, forcing students to attend class around AP exams will likely cause an increase in unexcused absences and truancies. In addition, not allowing students adequate rest before and after mentally exhausting exams will increase the probability of burnout and decrease study time for upcoming exams, potentially lowering future AP scores. This is exceptionally pressing given the importance of APs.

According to Diana, the percentage of CHS students who pass AP exams with a score of a three or higher is included on an information sheet sent to colleges. Essentially, the more passing AP scores, the better CHS looks to universities.

Given that CHS has increased its emphasis on CAASPP tests this year, the scores of which go on the same report as AP pass rates, it stands to reason that APs should be given the same priority in terms of quality of performance. If CHS wants its students to pass their AP exams with less stress, students should be excused from classes on the day of those exams. Overall, this would highly benefit both student mental health and academic performance, which is likely the reason this more relaxed policy was in place during previous school years.

By providing students with a well-deserved break, students can devote three hours to an AP test, refresh after each exam and use extra time to prepare for exams. Particularly since many students will find ways to take time off regardless, CHS should regulate such absences and excuse students on AP testing days.