By Jerry Xu
Due to the switch from six-week to nine-week grading periods this year, semester grades will be calculated differently than they have been in the past. Now, according to Assistant Principal Ronda Eshleman, finals are worth one-fifth of a student’s semester grade as opposed to one-seventh from previous years.
“Now (the grade) is going to be percentage based, so (the old method of final exam weighting of) one-seventh is now going to be 20 percent,” Eshleman said.
The new way of calculating semester grades puts slightly more emphasis on finals. Additionally, each quarter grade essentially counts for more as well.
“The first quarter grade is 40 percent of the semester grade, the second quarter grade is 40 percent, and then the final exam grade is 20 percent,” Eshleman said. “So when (students) are figuring (their) grades, (students) are going to figure it as, out of 100 percent, it would be 40 percent, 40 percent and 20 percent. That would be how (the semester grade) would be figured.”
The new system also uses the actual percentage grade received on the final and quarter grades and not the letter grade on a 12-point scale, which the old grading scale used.
“It’s all percentage-based; it’s not by grade,” Eshleman said. “We’re looking at percentages now versus assigning grades on a 12-point scale. (The new grading scale) is going to help some students while it might hurt other students.”
Using the actual percentages rather than the letter grades earned, for example, could lead to a difference between grades such as a high A and a low A, which may help some students who receive solid grades.
“I think using the percentage grade is better than using the 12-point scale because if I get a good grade in the first quarter and a bad grade on the second quarter, it all balances out,” sophomore Bryan Duffy said. “Also, if I get high A’s in both quarters, then I can slack off on my final without having to run the risk of hurting my semester grade. “In the 12-point system, there wasn’t a difference between a high A and a low A, so I couldn’t relax as much on the finals.”
However, the new system may harm the students who just managed to attain the quarter or final grade that they wanted while on the 12-point scale.
“I still like the rounding that they do on the grades now, but I think the original 12-point scale was better,” sophomore Andrew Smith said. “The rounding and 12-point scale where an A is an A definitely helps when you’re on borderline grades, so the 12-point scale I felt helped with the semester grades.”
Eshleman said the changes in the calculation of semester grades are due to the switch from six-week to nine-week grading periods.
“Well, because we moved from six-week grades to nine-week grades, we had to change how the grades were figured because now we only have two grading periods versus three grading periods, so that’s why the change was made,” Eshleman said. “We had to switch to nine-week grades so that the whole district would be on nine-week grades.”
Because finals have more weight this year, eligibility for the Skip-a-Final program will be increasingly important for students, which means attendance will be more vital than before.
Eshleman said, “It’s going to mean a lot to be able to skip that final, so attendance is going to be more important.”
Despite the increase in the importance of finals, many students do not plan to study differently or even more in advance. For them, the finals will be the same as they have in the past, with the usual amounts of stress and last-minute preparation.
“I feel that if I study the same as last year, I’ll still get the same grades,” Duffy said. “The new changes are going to have a marginal effect because finals are still going to be a big part of the semester grade, so I’m going to do everything the same way as last year. I’m probably going to start cramming the week before my finals, and the stress that comes with finals isn’t going to go away.”