Three Terms With No Final For WHS

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WHS should have three terms.

Nicholas Fuller

WHS should have three terms.

It was that time of the school year a month ago for Walpole High School. That time of transition, where it is the end of one quarter, and the beginning of another.  This time period for teachers and students is a critical, and often stressful, one. Teachers are scrambling to put grades into X2, and students often find themselves bombarded with loads of tests and quizzes. Typically, this period either helps or hurts students grades drastically.

This is a result of the quarter, or quadmester, system at Walpole High School. The system implements four quarters per year, the first two making up the first semester, and the last two making up the second semester. At the half way point, the school has midterms. At the end of the year, the school has finals. Each quarter counts as 20% of a student’s final grade, and midterms and finals each count as 10% of the final grade for the year. In past years, the middle and elementary schools in Walpole had a different kind of system, called a trimester system. This system had three terms, in which each counted as one-third of a student’s final grade, with no midterms or finals. But is this a system Walpole High could possibly even use?

The answer to that question is yes.  A trimester system at Walpole High School, without a midterm, is unreasonable. Midterms are important; yet, implementing three terms could still be achieved.  Inserting a midterm into a trimester system is actually very plausible, and as crazy as it sounds, it could work.

Under the proposed system, there would be three terms per year. There would be  midterms in the middle of second term. At the end of third term, there would be no final examinations. Each term would count as 30% of the student’s final grade, and the midterm would count as 10% (30×3=90+10) which would equal 100%.  This system would be better than the current one for three reasons:

  1. Eliminating finals would only benefit students and administration. Getting rid of finals would not be harmful and would not downgrade students’ preparation for midterms because 10% of your final grade would still depend upon them. That number is still high enough to make midterms matter.
  2. Many students struggle to take long tests.  Most students do not do worse on midterms and finals because they did not prepare, but because the amount of information to remember is often too much for many students to handle.
  3. The average student’s performance on a midterm or final is usually at least 10 points lower than their average term grade.  Students often work hard all year just to find their final grade lowered 3-4 points by midterms and finals.  Is that fair?  Teachers say we have midterms and finals to teach us how to take long and rigorous assessments.  Isn’t one for each academic class a year for four years enough preparation? Do teachers like correcting 100+ finals near the end of June? Do students like taking finals in scorching heat?

According to some students, they do not.  Sophomore Kevin Curran said, “No, nobody likes finals. It’s hot, and everyone is thinking about summer.”  Midterms, on the other hand, spark a different opinion. Curran said, “I don’t mind them.”  Similarly, sophomore Aidain Moore agrees that “finals are worse because caring about school is difficult at that point.”  Even for the best of students, finals are extremely difficult to get motivated for. These reactions are not surprising, however, as  midterms are taken in conditions where a student can concentrate and be at his/her best.  Finals, conversely, are not so accomadating.

There are other advantages to a trimester system as well.  One is that more grades would be entered  in a term than in a quarter.  Having three terms instead of four quarters would be better because each term would indicate a more accurate representation for the student because more grades would be put in each term as compared to fewer grades each quarter.

For example, in many classes teachers have two big tests per quarter.  If a student does poorly on one of them, he/she could be doomed for that quarter.  If tests counted for 40-50% of a student’s grade, and a student got a 50 on a test, then 20-25% of that student’s grade would be a 50.  If a student got a 50 on a test in a term, instead, then the test would count for 13.3-16.3% of the grade for the term.  The same amount of work would get done in three terms and in four quarters, it is just the quantity of grades in each one that differs.

In the end, colleges and universities either have trimesters or semesters, not quarters.  If students got used to having longer terms now, it would not be as difficult to adjust in college.  Giving students more chances to succeed would only make WHS an even better institution of learning.  On top of all the wonderful oppurtunities Walpole High provides, students would gain another competive advantage over students in other high schools.  Rewarding students for their successes during the school year is important, and 20% of a student’s grade does not deserve to be damaged by certain examinations.  The work that the student does from September to June should be even more well noted and reflected in their final grade. A trimester system would benefit Walpole High School immensely.