FISD students in sixth grade and above had previously been graded in six-week marking periods.
The move to nine-week marking periods is meant to encourage students to focus on learning rather than grades, said Phil Evans, managing director of FISD secondary schools.
Evans said the district began taking a closer look at how it grades and assesses its students two years ago. The policy change also means the entire district will be using the same marking period—elementary schools had already been operating under the nine-week system.
The longer grading period also frees teachers to determine if any given student’s grade “really is measuring what that teacher intended for it to measure,” Evans said.
Coinciding with the grading period extension, FISD is also eliminating a daily assessment grade. Students have previously been assessed by three categories: daily, minor and major grades, Evans said.
FISD students now only be assessed based on the major and minor grades. Major grades will be based on student’s work on lengthier assignments, such as projects, tests and essays. Those assessments will count for 60% of students’ grades.
Minor grades will be based on more incremental assessments, such as students’ comprehension of basic skills and concepts. They will count for 40% of students’ grades, Evans said.
“Minor and major assessment categories provide teachers the flexibility in determining how to assess student mastery and learning,” Karen Kraft, Lone Star High School principal, said in a news release. “By focusing on just two categories, students have more opportunities to exhibit their own level of learning in working towards mastery.”
The new nine-week marking period will also come as good news to students participating in University Interscholastic League events.
“We want to provide every opportunity for our students to participate in extracurricular activities, and the nine-week structure will help us do that,” FISD Athletic Director David Kuykendall said in the release. “Students will have an increased chance to show they are succeeding in the classroom to maintain eligibility.”
Students can lose eligibility to participate in UIL events if they receive a failing grade during each marking period. They can regain eligibility based on their grades from interim progress reports or at the end of each nine-week cycle.
FISD students began the 2019-20 school year Aug. 15.