Bradley may switch to 9-week grading periods

Bradley may switch to 9-week grading periods

May 9th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley County Schools may use a nine-week grade card system next school year.

Some neighboring school systems, including Hamilton County, Athens City schools, Meigs and Rhea county schools and Cleveland City schools, already have opted for the nine-week grading period instead of the six-week period.

McMinn and Polk county schools have opted for the six-week grading period for the 2011-2012 school year.

The Bradley school board plans to vote Tuesday on the proposal.

Board member Charlie Rose said he understands the reasoning behind the proposed change. But he fears that, while the change might benefit elementary and high schools, it would not help middle school students and families.

Nine weeks means fewer opportunities for students to take part in enrichment classes such as art, Rose said. And fewer grading periods might make it harder for middle school students to raise their performance to a higher grade.

"I just don't want to see this adversely impact middle schools," Rose said. "I want to be sure middle schools have a chance to discuss this."

County schools Director Johnny McDaniel said the change "started with some of the elementary folks."

"I'm not saying all of them, but some of the elementary principals came with strong opinions about this; enough to have my attention over the last couple of years to listen but not ready to move forward," he said. "At this point, I think we have enough information to make a recommendation to the board."

Dan Glasscock, supervisor of secondary education, said nine-week grading periods work better for scheduling semester courses, the half-credit courses, at high schools.

"Nine weeks equate to a semester. We do not have semesters," he said.

Many parents and guardians have access to the "Parent Portal" on school and school district websites, making six-week report cards less necessary, he said. Schools would have the option of providing an academic report at the four-and-a-half-weeks point.

When guidelines eventually are provided by the state, they likely will reflect a nine-week grading period, Glasscock said.

Sheena Newman, supervisor of elementary education, said nine-week grading periods provide pupils with more opportunities to acquire grades, lessening the weight on each assignment and allowing more time for teachers and parents to intervene to help struggling students.

She said local educators feel elementary and secondary report cards should be sent out at the same time and not on different grading periods, whether six or nine weeks.