Quarter vs. Semester System


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Margareta Backlund, Staff Writer

As the school year became apparent that it was going to be online, the San Diego Unified School District set out to devise a system that would be better for students and parents. They decided on the quarter system versus the traditional semester system, meaning that students would have the same three classes for quarters one and three, and their other three classes in quarters two and four, instead of having the same six classes for semester one and semester two. 

 This new system entails pushing an 18-week semester into nine weeks: two-quarters equaling one semester. SDUSD believes that students can learn the same amount they would normally learn in 36 weeks of the school year in just 18 weeks. The in-class time is 74 minutes, a bit longer than the usual 55-minute classes. Even when the students are getting 19 minutes longer, that does not help says freshman Arielle Brotman. She continues, “We will just spend the afternoon teaching ourselves the stuff and doing extra homework.” Students are learning at such a rapid pace that they are not actually learning; they are just memorizing it to get a good grade then move on. Additionally, the quarter system is also hard on teachers because they are expected to teach the same amount of information in about half the time.

This is especially hard for students in advancement placement, advanced, or honor classes, and considering that the courses already run at a rapid pace, using this quarter system it increases the pace astronomically. 

SDUSD thinks it would be easier for students to just focus on three subjects because they are at home and that it is too hard to concentrate and be on zoom for six to seven hours a day. However, this idea has fundamental flaws, one being that it simply adds more workload onto an already stressed-out student. Brotman “sees no point in cramming 18 weeks of material into 9 weeks; it just makes it impossible to learn everything.” 

As the third quarter is soon to begin on January 25, senior Nora Wilcox “hopes that if we go back to school it will change back to the semester system and hopes for the younger grades it will change next year.”