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Do Third Quarter Grades Actually Drop?

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With the competitive nature of academics in high school, it can be extremely frustrating for students when their grades drop.  Statistics, as well as the personal opinions of teachers and students, suggest that severe grade drops occur during the third quarter. There is a wide range of possibilities as to why the third quarter is so detrimental to grades: the curriculum gets harder in the third quarter, breaks from school throw off students, or students become more relaxed.

Report cards have recently been released for the third quarter, and many students and teachers claim that they contain much lower grades than that of previous quarters. “The grades definitely dip in the third quarter. Of course there are individual exceptions, but the overall trend is a decrease,” stated chemistry teacher Mrs. Tjersland.  “Third quarter has been the worst for me. I was doing pretty well the first half of the year, but in all of the craziness in third quarter, my grades suffered tremendously,” added sophomore Josh Wende.  “The general pattern that I see in my classes [is] that grades drop by a couple points in the third quarter. While this isn’t a huge drop, it still shows that students struggle in this quarter,” said social studies teacher Ms. Lislevatn.

The reasons for these drops can vary. Biology teacher Mrs. Archdeacon explained, “The decrease in grades that I witness in the third quarter is typically because, in my opinion, the biology curriculum becomes harder. Everyone thinks that the class will get easier, but the opposite occurs, resulting in a drop in grades.”  “I personally believe that the decreasing trend is a result of many vacations present in the third quarter. Third quarter encapsulates February and Spring break, meaning that tests are usually all around the same time. This obviously makes it more difficult for the students,” claimed Mrs. Tjersland.

In addition to these reasons, the overall feeling of the third quarter is one of relaxation, due to the fact that midterms are over and vacations are present.   Another major cause for the drops in grades is “senioritis.” By this time in the year, seniors have been accepted into college and don’t feel they need to work as hard to keep their grades up. Now, the reason this does not also apply to fourth quarter is that finals and AP exams are present, and seniors understand that these tests are still very important.  Senior Reid Barnowitz said that he was a victim of senioritis, and although he realized his mistakes quickly and tried to make up for it, his grades did drop third quarter.

While many believe the third quarter grades drop to be a myth, the dip in third quarter grades is definitely prominent at West.  Students who did suffer from a drop in grades should take this as motivation to do well during the fourth quarter.