The Reality of Quarterly Exams

Quarterlies. Three exams in the entire year that account for 20% of your final grade. These exams have been administered for years here at Morris Hills, but what is the purpose of these exams? Are they worth taking, or are they just another nuisance that we can’t get rid of?

Before Quarterlies, there was only ONE final exam for all classes, which accounted for 20% of your final grade! About 10 years ago, these exams were replaced by the infamous quarterlies we know of today. So why do we take them? Are they even required? 

As it turns out, New Jersey has a requirement that each teacher has SGOs, or Student Growth Objectives. Teachers need to show that their students are growing and learning throughout the year. At Hills, quarterly exams fit this requirement since it shows our growth throughout the school year. 

Many staff and students have varying opinions on these quarterly exams. Ms. Santucci, who teaches Algebra 2 and AP Computer Science A, finds that quarterly exams take away from valuable instruction time. However, she’s glad that the school does not have quarterlies for AP classes since AP classes are on a very strict schedule to finish their entire curriculum by the beginning of May. Most AP teachers also already give cumulative assessments throughout the year as preparation for their students so that they can ace their AP exam.

Ms. Edelstein, teacher of English, likes that her class does not have quarterly exams, but rather mid-year and final papers. She says these papers are placed strategically within the year, and they fit well the overall goal for each of her classes. She likes how the Mid-Year Focus Piece brings all of the smaller skills her students have learned through the first semester of the year all together. The final paper is also the culmination of combining these skills with higher level research.   Next year, however, the English department will also be giving quarterlies to help students prepare for standardized tests like the NJSLA.  

Kaydine Gonzalez, sophomore, does not enjoy taking quarterly exams. She finds them quite stressful as there is a lot of studying leading up to them.  If she had a choice to get rid of quarterly exams, she would also want to get rid of the combined quarter 3/quarter 4 exam since it requires that students recall information they learned months ago. She would also prefer that these  exams not count for  as much as they do currently.

Well, it seems like quarterly exams are not going away anytime soon. But, there are definitely a few changes that could occur to reduce both student stress and create a more efficient learning environment. Quarterlies could be averaged into each quarter and not as a separate “quarter 5” grade. This would reduce stress and take less time.