JEFFERSON — Among the items up for review by the School District of Jefferson Board of Education Monday evening is a recommended move to the trimester system for the district’s elementary schools.
Curriculum and Instruction Director Barb Johnson is slated to give a report on the expected shift during the meeting.
Replacing the traditional quarterly grading schedule, the trimester system would divide the academic year into three sessions: fall, winter and spring, with each trimester being 12-13 weeks long.
Laying out the reasoning behind the shift in a report released last Friday as part of the school board’s supporting documents, Johnson noted that standards-based report cards require time for assessment and documentation.
With the establishment of standards-based report cards, many school districts have moved to trimester grading schedules from the quarterly method, Johnson said.
Trimesters align to the elementary reading, math and writing assessment schedules in terms of standardized testing, she noted.
In addition, she said that research shows trimester grading periods are more developmentally appropriate for elementary school students.
The change experienced by students would be minimal, Superintendent Mark Rollefson said. As opposed to the middle and high school level, where students switch classes on a quarterly or semester basis, elementary students remain in the same classrooms so the shift to trimesters would not impact their study schedules.
The only difference families likely would note is when report cards come home.
Parent-teacher conferences are not expected to be impacted either, at least not in the first year, Rollefson said.
The change is slated for 2019-20.
In her released report, Johnson listed some additional advantages of the trimesters.
The schedule provides more time for students to learn and demonstrate proficiency and a longer period of time at the beginning of the school year for students to acclimate themselves with a new school, classroom and schedule before grades come out.
It aligns better with tri-yearly reading, writing and math assessments. Fewer marking periods reduce the time needed for testing, leaving more time for direct instruction.
Also, this system provides more flexibility for teachers to set the pace of the curriculum and ensure student mastery of the concepts they’re trying to teach.
Area districts already with trimesters include Oconomowoc, Janesville, Lake Mills, Edgerton, Cambridge and Deerfield.
Under the new system, grades for elementary students would go out in mid-December, near the end of March, and at the end of the school year, which in 2020 will be June 10.
Parent-teacher conferences have been set for the coming school year for Nov. 25 and 26 and Feb. 27 and 28, 2020, at the elementary level.