Early, Early Action? A Solution to the Quarter Grade Panic

Mehr Singh Co-Editor-in-Chief As a senior this year, quarter grades became much scarier than before. Instead of just being an estimate of how you’re doing, they became these set-in-stone grades that every early action college would see. Every quiz, and every test that impacted that quarter grade gave me and other seniors more pressure than ever before. And, personally, it felt a bit ridiculous. How could grades based on the first couple weeks of school be an accurate estimate of my work? Talking to seniors who were freaking out about quarter grades, Mr. McCutcheon felt the same way. But, instead of just accepting the panic, in an interview with the Forum, Mr. McCutcheon explained some new ideas about how the hysteria, especially for seniors, can be prevented. Forum: What is your opinion on first quarter grades? Mr. McCutcheon: Understandably, most people think that quarter grades are half a semester because that’s the terminology, but it’s a misunderstanding. Quarter grades are just a progress report to say how you are doing. They aren’t a part of transcripts or record. Forum: But, for seniors they seem to have a much larger impact. Do you agree? Mr. McCutcheon: Well, I think the one exception is for seniors in the fall of senior year. For early action and early decision, I think it’s too bad that quarter grades are sent out. If colleges put a lot of weight on those quarter grades, the colleges are mistaken. Specifically, first quarter grades are the least meaningful grade in the year. I hope colleges acknowledge that. Forum: Is there a way you can think of to replace or change system of quarter grades? Mr. McCutcheon: One idea I can think of is the system the school I used to work for uses. They essentially did away with quarter grades in name, calling them interim grades. There were still grades and comments, but the grades just didn’t have the label of a quarter grade. For me, that change had an effect that was unexpected. Students were slightly less worried because they recognized more easily that it’s a progress report. I thought it was silly how much that simple change had an impact, but seeing seniors now, I understand. Forum: Do you think Latin should change its system? Mr. McCutcheon: I can’t really say. That’s for administrators to weigh in and decide on. But, I think the interim system may or may not be the right thing at Latin. I guess we’ll have to see. Forum: Do you think colleges should change their system of asking for first quarter grades? Mr. McCutcheon: I think colleges should just say that they don’t want first quarter grades. If we just get one college, that’s widely known, to get an early early action admission system started in September, it would solve the problem. In September the colleges wouldn’t need first quarter grades, and if we get one well-known school to start that trend, other colleges will start to follow. We just need one person to convince one college so all the other colleges fall into place. And, it would help colleges too. If colleges want to shrink the number of applications they have to look at, early early action would help. So, can you help Mr. McCutcheon contact one school and get an early early action admissions program started? Comment below and let us know what you think of these ideas!]]>