Should fourth quarter grading be adjusted?

Maria Carrillo High School science teacher Leanne West works at her desk after school (Photo: Jon Donohue, The Puma Prensa)

By Jon Donohue, staff writer

The conversation about fourth quarter grading should definitely be had as students return to in-person instruction at Maria Carrillo High School. It seems unfair that students who return to class and experience the massive transition will be expected to perform equally to students remaining in distance learning. The reality of the situation is that testing conditions are harder in person than online. I believe that the vast majority of MCHS students and teachers realize the difference between being in the classroom and sitting comfortably behind a computer. 

Online classes are extremely different compared to in person classes, and teachers should consider that these differences could result in testing becoming unequal for students who decide to come back to school. Having to take tests in person is definitely more stressful than taking a test online in the comfort of your own home, and it could make it much harder for students returning to school who have to deal with a big transition, putting them at a disadvantage. 

When asked if distance learning is easier than hybrid is likely to be, MCHS sophomore Emmanuel Gaspar said, “One hundred percent yes. The only reason why I think online is easier is because you can work [at] your pace [on] your [own] time. [You] are working on your schedule rather than the school’s schedule.” 

“You can work [at] your pace [on] your [own] time. [You] are working on your schedule rather than the school’s schedule.” 

“Distance learning has been a challenge for students, parents/guardians, teachers, admin and school staff–really everyone involved,” said MCHS biology teacher Leanne West. “Some of us are still really feeling a sense of struggle and stress, but I know some of us have found a groove and are comfortable with routines and expectations set in each class.” 

I would agree with both statements from Gaspar and West. The factor that remains similar in both opinions is that we do have more flexibility in our schedule while taking online classes.

Besides general schooling, testing online is not as stressful when compared to testing in person, which makes it easier to get higher scores. 

 “At home, you are in your comfort zone and feel more confident. Testing online is easier than in person,” said Gaspar. 

I see clear disadvantages for taking tests in person compared to online. In person, there is a higher level of pressure, leading to a higher chance of getting stressed out, making it harder to perform at your maximum potential. It is a lot more comforting to take a test at home, somewhere that is a familiar environment for everyone. I feel that testing over Zoom is a good way to give all students the same learning experience, and I think there are multiple options to make them equal. 

“Tests need to be treated differently,” said MCHS sophomore Noah Vincent. One option Vincent suggested was that “all students could conduct finals over Zoom to make testing equivalent.” 

I believe that this is a feasible option. Tests could totally be done on the same platform. Also, making tests all over Zoom makes it 100% equal for every last student, it won’t be harder for certain students and easier with others, which should not be the case under any circumstances, even these crazy ones with the pandemic. 

I understand that the school administration has already set the schedule for the rest of the year and completely testing online may not be possible. However, I hope teachers will see this and try to make the other aspects of school equal for all students as teachers and students make this massive transition back to school. 

“Assignments and activities will be completed in a similar manner as we have done this year. I will be open to modifying and tweaking lessons to best meet the needs of all students,” said West. 

I think that teachers should consider making small changes. I hope for this conversation to start rolling among teachers and students because it is valid and important to consider.

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