Switching the System

Brand new grading format causes some worry


Rebecca Hornberger

Discussing the Change: Counselor Trevor Wolfe speaks to a student. Discussing with students their grades and how they look could be beneficial to students.

For those who are academically inclined, having a fresh start every quarter for grades is a stress reliever. It provides a clean start for those who might have had a rough time keeping good grades. Francis Howell Central has kept the same grading system in place for the previous 24 years, yet decided that for lucky number 25 they would change it up. Guidance Counselor Trevor Wolfe gave a quick explanation of what grades will look like for the school year.

“It boils down to 90 percent of your semester grade is your classroom work. And ten percent is your final, as opposed to the old system of being 40 percent first quarter, 40 percent second quarter, and 20 percent final,” Mr. Wolfe said. 

With the new change, quarters have been eliminated and instead were combined to create a single semester. With these alterations, Mr. Wolfe has formed his own theories revolving around the change.

“I’m gonna assume the reason behind it was to place less emphasis on one test at the end of the semester, so they narrowed or they went from 20 percent to ten percent,” Mr. Wolfe said.

Looking into the past four years of history within the walls of Francis Howell Central, the majority of the student body has not taken a final, because of a disastrous combination: snowstorms and the Covid-19 pandemic. Because so many students at FHC further their education in college, it is important for them to have the experience of finals since that’s something they are expected to do”

“I think we’ve done an injustice if we don’t have finals for students to take at this level, to introduce themselves to it,” Mr. Wolfe said. “When I first think about it, ten percent… I like that better than 20 percent because so much of it is not heavily weighted on your semester grade.”

When talking to other faculty members about when they were notified of the change that FHC had adopted, it was expressed that they did not know about the change until the week before the actual school year started. 

“I officially had it spelled out in a meeting Friday [the week before school] so five days later,” Human Anatomy and Physiology teacher Patrick Reed said when questioned on how he obtained his knowledge. 

“I think some students immediately expressed ‘what… oh no,’ and they had like a momentary panic attack,” Mr. Reed said when gauging student reactions after going over the new syllabi that incorporated the change of systems. 

A large number of the student population had no idea there was a change with the grading system until the first day of school, where, like Mr. Reeds students… they panicked. Senior Grace Hutchinson was one to find out about the switch on the first day of school, and like her peers, has concerns revolving around the combination of quarters into semesters.

“It will be something to adjust to,” Hutchinson said. “[However], it will motivate [students] to keep [their] grades up throughout the semester rather than just worrying about the quarter.”

For every person returning to Francis Howell Central for the 2021 to 2022 school year, the new grading system will be something they will have to adapt to. Whether it’s adapting by putting more effort into doing homework or studying for tests, some students will have an easy time with the adjustments. However, not all students will change as easily as others.

“Not having quarters [might] jeopardize grades because [students] don’t have the chance to reflect on their grades mid-semester,” Hutchinson said. 

While the number of students that might end up impacted is unknown, it is still a consequence. With the nature of the change and how sudden it was, there have not yet been any issues with the new structure.

Like testing a hypothesis without experimentation and data collecting, the currently unknown effectiveness of the new grading system will remain so until students can experience it to its fullest extent. For now, students and staff will have to remain satisfied with waiting patiently to watch for the outcome.


I think some students immediately expressed ‘What … oh no,’ and they had like a momentary panic attack,”

— Patrick Reed