Adding Quarter Grades to Transcripts Powerful Incentive

The end of the quarter is often met with indifference from students as these mid-semester grades are omitted from the transcripts that are provided to colleges during the application process. Quarter grades are currently nothing more than glorified progress reports.

However, amongst other benefits, a system that requires students to submit all quarter grades to colleges would incentivize students to work hard throughout the entirety of the semester.

As it is, students notoriously procrastinate deep into the 2nd-half of each semester before ratcheting up their academic intensity to save their grades.

U.S. History and AP Art History teacher Molly Kerr admitted that making quarter grades an official part of transcripts available to colleges “highlights a certain level of anxiety.”

On the other hand, it would also foster a more consistent application of effort, and as a result, relieve stress created by those who dig themselves a hole early on and are then forced to perform late-night, last-minute cram sessions, or grovel humiliatingly for their teacher’s mercy and ask to have their grade rounded up.

Sophomore Namratha Kasalanati likes the idea of including quarter grades on official transcripts. “If you had a really bad day at the final, but, overall, you had an ‘A’ in the 1st quarter and got an ‘A’-minus [or worse] at the end, colleges are able to consider you as a student throughout the semester,” said Kasalanati.

In other words, if all quarter grades are sent, GPAs will be more accurate because there would be more data involved in their calculation, thus making the average of all our grades more realistic.

Additionally, quarter grades could show an improvement from a low mid-semester grade to a higher final-semester grade. According to the college advice website Prepscholar, when schools see students improving their grades, admission officers feel more confident that they are “on track” for success at a higher level of education.

Although College and Career Counselor Joan Batchellor said that colleges have a lot to deal with, she added that some student groups, like athletes, are asked to send in quarter grades as a “check-up” on how they are performing academically.

If some seniors already send quarter grades, a system geared towards sending quarter grades for all students would be within reason and not involve too much of innovation.

As the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) Governing Board voted to give Credit/No Credit grades for the 2nd semester to go on student transcripts due to the coronavirus pandemic, including quarter grades in the future, when we return to school, could make up for lost time and provide the information colleges need to make a decision.

In fact, it appears that comments to the AUHSD Board have prompted such considerations. 675 AUHSD Parents voiced their opinions about the grading system during school closure and the shelter-in-place, and students did not hold back on expressing their thoughts, either. Over 2000 signatures comprised a petition to give students the choice to send their 3rd quarter grades to colleges. While the district has yet to embrace the idea of adding quarter grades to transcripts, it has shown many students the potential importance of quarter grades.

A large reason the district balked at giving students the choice to select their 3rd quarter grade was because many students do not take quarter grades seriously, as they are currently more of a check up than a published grade for colleges to see. If quarter grades are included in transcripts moving forward, students will benefit from the incentive.

Including quarter grades on students’ transcripts could be a powerful motivator. We must continue to promote progress and hard work, rather than successful procrastination.