The Marking Period Mess: Third Quarter Grades

By Eileen Cruz

As if report cards couldn’t be dreaded any more than they already are, this April, several circumstances will affect grades a great deal. For some students this change will be negative.

On Skedula, students will see that the final fall average is worth 66.67% of a class’s grade. This is not an error made by teachers, but the new policy for the third marking period.

The final average of the fall semester will be worth two thirds of the third marking period grade. The other third will be the grades received so far during the spring semester.

Principal Randy Asher said that the creation of annualized courses was a result of the “High School Guide for Academic Policy,” sent out by the central Department of Education. According to Asher, there was a “long and arduous debate” until “the best model for the most kids at Tech” was decided upon.

The plan for grading was initially to have all the grades just migrate into the next term. This means a test from September would still be present in the same section on Skedula as a test taken in March. This process made sense and suited the students’ needs best.

However, there were software issues beyond the school’s control. The administration decided to make each term worth half of the final grade. But the half and half method only makes sense at the end of June, not April.

Asher said that by dividing the marking periods’ worth into thirds “gives a more realistic approximation” of what a student’s grades would be, since “it’s only a fraction of the work” of the second term.

Patricia Ann Deignan ’16 feels like it’s “annoying” how for this marking period, working harder in the second term “doesn’t mean as much as not doing well in the first term.”

Most students who have been improving during the second term will find that their hard work will not balance out fully until the final June report card.

Alaric Connell ’16 believes that this is unfair to freshmen. During the first term “we had just gotten here and were getting used to everything.” He thinks that students should “talk to the administration about it” and try to get the policy changed.

While the administration’s decision is understandable, the real problem lies in the computer program used for grading. If the school had a program which would keep all the grades throughout the school year, and not just an average for the fall semester, it’d reflect grades more accurately. There would not be any issues with the percent worth of each term, nor the loss of individual grades. The grading policy decisions made throughout the course of the year have shown a lack of planning on the part of the administration with their choice of software.

An average in each class for the fall and spring semesters doesn’t reflect a student’s strengths or weaknesses accurately. By capping each student’s average, the school is effectively hurting an individual’s ability to achieve high marks. Hopefully next year, the school will work out its software problems and give students the accurate grades they deserve.

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