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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Task force recommends nine-week grading period in Pinellas



A task force of district officials and union leaders have recommended that Pinellas County's public schools switch from a six-week grading period to a nine-week period, saying that it would provide students with more instruction and a greater ability to recover from poor marks early on.

The recommendation isn't one that could be implemented for the coming school year. That calendar already has gone through committee and been approved by the School Board. There doesn't appear to be much research about whether a particular length is better for students, so it might be a matter of preference. Many school districts nationwide use a six-week grading period; many others use a nine-week period. At the college level, grading periods can be 12 weeks or longer.

The task force was formed last year under former superintendent John Stewart after the teachers union agreed to give up early-release Wednesdays in the 2013/14 school year. (Point of clarification here: The task force wasn't created by Stewart. It was part of the negotiated agreement between the district and the union.) The group was instructed to consider how school schedules could be arranged to allow teachers enough planning time without taking away from instructional time.

The task force got off to a rocky start, but now is bringing its recommendations forward. The School Board will discuss them Tuesday at its workshop. See the recommendations here

Some of the recommendations are supported by the district - such as moving the mandated extra hour of reading for the state's lowest 100 performing elementary schools to the beginning of the day, rather than the end - while others have been sort of passed off as "school-based decisions." One example of a recommendation that falls into the "school-based decision" category was to rotate seven equal periods, teaching six per day, in the middle schools.

The recommendation about the grading periods will be taken to middle and high school principals in September. Principals will then be asked to get feedback from teachers, students and parent groups.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:10pm]


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