Students debate the quarter-system content gap

A tight turnaround between the end of Q2 classes on January 22, and the start of Q3 on January 25 – Gary Gao ’21

At the end of January, students and faculty transitioned back from their second-quarter classes to those of the first quarter, albeit in what is now the third quarter of this year’s new quarter-block scheduling system. The upper school administration adopted this schedule to permit in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     As students have started settling back into the third quarter classes they left on hiatus at the beginning of November, many have found the transition different in comparison to past academic years’ semesters.

     “It’s been interesting to adjust between the different quarters,” Third Former Russell Yoh said. 

     Yoh noted that a considerable variation in workload contributed to a necessary adjustment during the transition.

     “I feel that most of my quarter-two classes were more difficult and had more homework than my quarter one and three classes,” Yoh said. “It was difficult to be motivated to do a lot more work than I was used to doing when transitioning to the second quarter, but it is nice to now have more free time in the third quarter.”

     For many students, a concern when transitioning into the third quarter was resuming classes that halted many in the past year.

     “At the end of the first quarter, I was a little nervous about having to remember all of the information I learned for the next few months during the second quarter,” Yoh said. 

     “For me, I feel the transition was smooth,” English teacher Mr. Keith Belson said.  “For students, I think there definitely was an adjustment with the [quarter] gap.” 

     Mr. Belson tried to divide evenly the English I class content between the first and third quarters in order to minimize a loss of consistency in the classroom. In the first quarter, the focus of the English I curriculum was on writing, while the third quarter now focuses on listening and literature. This division seeks to make it easier for students to divide between the two quarters.

     Yoh feels that this course content division has proven effective in helping him remember prior material.

     “Now, in the third quarter, I realized that most of my classes stopped at a good point at the end of the first quarter, so I don’t have to necessarily remember everything from the first quarter,” Yoh said. “It has been smooth so far.”

     On February 9, the upper school administration sent out a survey regarding the quarter-block system to the student body. As the upper school administration seeks to receive feedback from both students and faculty, the question of whether the gap between quarters is beneficial for students still remains.

     For many students like Yoh, the first and third-quarter separation has proven to be positive.

     “Quarter one and quarter three being split months apart was actually helpful,” Yoh said. “After focusing on the same three classes for a few months, it was nice to get a break and learn about something new for a while.”

“My concern is that the break will create a knowledge gap for two major classes when we return to school again next year.”

Chase Nelson ’24

     Other students feel the lack of content consistency outweighs any benefits of the quarter gap and quarter-block schedule.

     “The gap between my classes, especially for language and math courses, makes it challenging to transition back into those classes,” Fourth Former Roch Parayre said. “With these classes, consistently learning over a longer period of time with long gaps in between is usually what allows for students to gain more depth on certain topics.”

     Looking to the future, Third Former Chase Nelson agrees.

     “By the end of this quarter, I won’t have classes like geometry or Spanish again for over six months,” Nelson said. “My concern is that the break will create a knowledge gap for two major classes when we return to school again next year.”