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Students worry over inability to see first quarter grades

After feedback, MyMalvern grades will remain live through the date when second quarter grades are posted.

After the first quarter ended on Oct. 21, students were not able to see their grades on MyMalvern until they got their report cards 11 days later. This became a source of anxiety for both students and teachers.

To be clear, students could see their first quarter grades throughout the marking period, but once the quarter ended on a Friday, they could not see them on MyMalvern. The next Monday, the grades for the second quarter opened. Students got their report cards with their letter grades for the first quarter on Nov. 1. Students still cannot see the number grades for the first quarter on MyMalvern (an 87.3 for Honors Precalculus, for example).

Head of the Upper School Mr. Ronald Algeo said that this system was in place in order to reduce stress, not to raise it.

Head of the Upper School Mr. Ronald Algeo said that this system was in place in order to reduce stress, not to raise it.  

“The reasoning behind this practice was because the new quarter had very few grades in it, so if somebody missed a HW or had a rough quiz early in the quarter, it would swing the grade inordinately low, causing the cumulative GPA to drop as well,” Algeo said. “It was an attempt to allow the new quarter to unfold and for students to build some grades so there wouldn’t be that larger early fluctuation which only caused more confusion.”

Algeo said he received feedback from both teachers and students saying it would be better for students to see grades at the end of the quarter. As a result, students will be able to see their grades at the end of the second quarter.

“We’re going to give it a try where we don’t [turn it off],” Algeo said.

Algeo said the reaction to this change will determine whether or not the change will become permanent.

Junior Peter Nguyen had a similar opinion to those who wanted the change. Nguyen, like all other students, could see his grades throughout the quarter. The policy made the end of the quarter stressful for him.

“I had a couple tests and assignments that I couldn’t see the grades for because the marking period closed,” Nguyen said. “Until my report card came, I had no idea what my grades looked like.”

Freshman CJ Mulcahy also thought the end of the quarter was “nerve-wracking.”

“In a few classes, I had last minute tests and extra credits to do, especially with the new accelerated schedule,” Mulcahy said. “We did not get many grades in for that quarter. It was especially stressful for me being a student who borderlines on the line between First Honors and Distinguished Honors.”

Nguyen said that he wasn’t so worried about his early second quarter grades because he knew they had time to sort out. What got him anxious was his previous grades, to which he was now in the dark.

“I was even more stressed out than I would have been seeing my grades,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t know if a teacher could have put in a wrong grade or give me a zero for a missed assignment without telling me.”

Junior Patrick McNally did not have any problems with his grades, but he noticed a general concern among his classmates.

“My experience and the experience of those I talked to about it was an increase in stress and anxiety about their grades because they couldn’t see them,” McNally said.

Mulcahy said that it was tough for him because he couldn’t tell his parents what his final grade was. “All you can respond with is ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I am not sure,’ which only caused more problems as [parents] thought you could be hiding that you did bad,” Mulcahy said.

Algeo explained that teachers are encouraged to notify the student of the grade they receive at the end of the quarter.

“Typically, the teacher would print out the grades or show the student the grades,” Algeo said. “We call that a verification process just to make sure they didn’t put in anything wrong.”

Algeo also said that students should ask their teacher what their grade was if they are worrying about it. Mr. Kevin Moore, who teaches five Calculus classes, received an unusually large number of these requests after he assigned an assessment near the close of the quarter.

“I would say that over half of my students contacted me about what their final grade was after the close of the quarter due to grades being put in on the last day of the quarter on my end,” Moore said.

Moore said it wasn’t annoying, but it added a lot of extra work that could have been avoided. “I would say that it partly fell on me as well as the system we have in place,” he said.

Moore thinks that students should have access to their grades when the quarter ends so students can check to see if teachers put in the correct grades.

“We should have it correct as teachers, but we do make mistakes,” Moore said. “If a grade is put in later in the quarter, if you don’t have access to see your grades you may not catch it in time until after you see your quarter grade.”

Another issue with the first quarter was that it was sped up by a week compared to last year. This was due to the first semester ending before Christmas break for the first time ever, according to Algeo. He explained that this schedule change will help cut down on work for students over the break.

“If you are teaching a semester class, typically you would go up to Christmas, students would be away for two weeks, then you have to wrap everything up in two quick weeks in January,” Algeo said. “It felt really disjointed. And obviously the students had a lot of work over Christmas because of that.”

Both Nguyen and McNally said that the shortened week did not affect them at all. They also like the idea that they will not have to worry about the first semester over break.

However, Mulcahy said that this lost week did affect him. As a freshman, he felt that the first week of high school was an introductory week with little tests or projects, which left them with very little time to learn for and take the assessments.

With these marking period issues in mind, Moore said that he supports the change so that students can see their grades at the end of the quarter. However, he made it clear that all decisions should be made off of consensus and administration support.

“I do defer to Mr. Algeo because he has the biggest picture out of all of us to make those decisions,” Moore said.

McNally said that the policy of the inability to see grades at the end of the quarter had a good intention to relieve stress, but only made things worse. “It took too long for us to see our final grades,” he said.

He is slightly irritated that he still cannot see the number grades on MyMalvern. He can see the letter grades on his report card, but he would like to see his number grades for the first quarter as well.

Algeo emailed a letter to parents on Friday, Dec. 16 explaining that second quarter grades are due for teachers on Thursday, Dec. 30. “That gives them some time with their families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day before they will turn in Final Grades,” he explained in the letter. “We will then go through the grades from our end and build the GPAs, check for accuracy, and compose Honors lists. Grades will be posted online on Wednesday, January 4.”

Algeo stated in the letter that he has advised teachers to limit checking email to once or twice a week over the winter break. “If you or your son have any questions, you are more than welcome to email individual teachers. If you do not hear back immediately, it’s OK,” he stated. “They may be away on a trip or are following my advice.”

“We will have plenty of time to make sure that all documents are accurate as soon as we get back on Monday, January 9 and will make sure we answer any question you may have,” he wrote.

About Dan Malloy

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