JEFFERSON — Jefferson Middle School plans to move from grading each quarter to doing so on a trimester system, according to a report prepared by principal Nick Skretta.

Skretta said the change will be effective at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

A trimester system divides the academic year into three sessions: fall, winter and spring. Each trimester runs for 12 to 13 weeks.

Previously, the school used the traditional system of quarter reporting, with each quarter being 45 days long. Trimesters will be roughly 60 days each.

Skretta said that there are numerous factors in favor of the switch to trimesters.

First, he said, the trimester system provides more time for students to learn and demonstrate proficiency within a grading period.

The switch provides extended time at the beginning of the year for students to acclimate to a new school, classroom and schedule before the first report cards of the school year come out.

Additionally, trimesters give teachers more time with the students to work on content, develop routines and structures, and provide intervention or enrichment.

With fewer grading periods, trimesters provide more time for teaching and learning as opposed to final assessments. They also provide more flexibility for teachers to pace curriculum and ensure student understanding, the principal said.

Skretta said the switch aligns the school grading periods with the existing trimester wheel classes the school offers, which include health, Spanish and technology education. Now these classes will switch at the same time as grades are coming out for students’ core classes: English/Language Arts, math, science and social studies.

In addition, the switch will provide more time for teachers and parents to identify and address areas of concern during the grading period.

Skretta noted that the district’s elementary schools already switched to the trimester grading system a year ago and the transition appeared to go smoothly.

Under the trimester schedule, grades would come out in the first week of December, the second week of March and the second week of June.

Under the old quarterly schedule, grades traditionally came out the third week of November, the first week of February, the second week of April and the end of June.

The traditional quarterly grading system will remain in use at Jefferson High School.

Parent-teacher conferences still are set throughout the year to encourage communication and understanding between parents and teachers and to give everyone a chance to cooperate as they work toward the common goal of student success.

At the elementary level, three sets of conferences are slated in the 2020-21 school year: Oct 22 and 27; Feb. 9 and April 29.

At the middle school level, only two sets of conferences are scheduled: Oct. 22 and 27 and March 4 and 9.

With the existing quarterly system continuing at the high school, there is only one formal parent-teacher conference set, on Oct. 22, plus course-selection nights for the coming year, which are set Feb. 3 and 8, 2021.

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