In 2011, the GCISD community developed a districtwide strategic plan, called LEAD 2021, that challenges us to constantly look for ways to improve the education experience in GCISD for our students. Recent improvements have included transitioning back to block scheduling at the high schools and improving the way that we calculate GPA and class rank, which allows our students the opportunity to explore interests while also providing for them to be more competitive in the college admission process. In addition, we have been examining our current six-week grading cycle to see if we can make improvements that further benefit our students.
Issue: The reason we are looking at our grading cycles is because of the school calendar. When the academic calendar changed so that semester exams could be completed before Winter Break, it was a welcome reprieve for most students and families. However, it subsequently caused the fall semester to have 20 less days of instruction than the spring semester. This imbalance between the semesters has resulted in shorter grading cycles in the first semester, which creates an unintended strain on students and staff.
Options the district reviewed: There are two possible solutions to this issue. The first would change the academic calendar, which would result in students taking semester exams after we returned from winter break in January. Ending the semester at winter break has benefits for both students and staff; therefore, the more viable option is to change the grading cycles from six-weeks to nine-weeks.
Benefits of Changing Grading Cycle: By changing the grading cycles to nine-weeks, there are several benefits that our students, parents and staff will see. This change would:
- Provide teachers more opportunity for student assessment of learning, rather than having fewer number of assignments that are weighted heavier towards a course grade.
- Provide parents an opportunity to see if a student is underperforming in a course by providing two progress reports, as opposed to only one, before a report card is sent home.
- Align the grading cycles with our elementary schools to provide further consistency in our grade reporting to parents.
“Pitfalls” of Changing Grading Cycle: The only foreseen pitfall in changing the grading cycles is that because students now will receive two report cards instead of three in a single semester, the grade received on each report card will count more towards a semester course grade. In the current six-week cycle, each report card counts 28.5 percent towards a semester grade and the semester exam is worth 14.5 percent. By moving to a nine-week grading cycle, each report card will count 42.5 percent and the final exam will count for 15 percent.
Opportunity for Feedback: As this recommended administrative regulation would be a districtwide change, we are asked for feedback from parents, students and staff before it goes before the Board of Trustees at the May 21 regular meeting.