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Nine-Week Grading Periods Better Reflect Student Learning

Jul 17, 2019

Science students at work at Independence High School. When Frisco ISD secondary schools move to nine-week marking periods this school year, students will have more time to demonstrate their understanding of concepts.

Each semester will be divided into two, nine-week grading periods, with a total of four grading periods, according to the 2019-20 District Calendar.

While the District announced the change in the fall of 2018, it has continued to update a Frequently Asked Questions section on the website as questions have come in.

"We have been researching and developing a plan for two years as a secondary grading committee on making the transition from a six-week marking period to nine-week marking period,” said Phil Evans managing director of secondary schools. “After getting input from a variety of stakeholders in Frisco ISD, the group felt strongly that making this move would have a positive impact on teaching and learning."

With longer marking periods, updated grading categories and weights will align with the evolution of assessment practices.

  • Longer grading periods support teachers’ best assessment practices. Experts agree that grades should represent student performance after they have had the chance to practice and receive feedback and intervention. 

  • Longer grading periods increase the focus on learning and decrease the focus on grades. In longer marking periods, decisions about what to grade can be more authentic to student learning to represent adequate evidence of student mastery.

  • Longer grading periods create greater accuracy and efficiency. A longer marking period provides time to intervene and re-assess prior to report card grade submission.

  • Longer grading periods increase the opportunity for students to maintain eligibility for longer periods of time. Students can regain eligibility twice each 9-week marking period. 

Weights

Grade averages will be based on grades in two categories, minor and major.

  • Minor Assessment Grades - 40%

  • Major Assessment Grades - 60%

Minor grades are typically formative, assessments utilized to guide teachers’ classroom instruction and intervention and guide students’ knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. Often these assessments cover smaller sets of skills or concepts or even a single skill or concept. 

Major grades are classroom summative assessments, including major projects, essays, tests, and other assessments intended to synthesize knowledge of several skills and concepts. Summative grades always represent students’ knowledge following opportunities to practice and receive feedback and intervention. 

Previously, students had three weighted categories: major, minor and daily.

“Minor and major assessment categories provide teachers the flexibility in determining how to assess student mastery and learning,” said Karen Kraft, Lone Star High School principal. “By focusing on just two categories, students have more opportunities to exhibit their own level of learning in working towards mastery.”

Re-Assessment/Re-Test Guidelines

Students will be able to receive credit for evidence of increased mastery for major grades 84 and below for a maximum score of an 85. Students scoring an 85 or above on the original major grade will not have an opportunity to reassess for a higher grade.

  • Students will have a window of five school days after the grade is returned to re-assess.  

  • Reassessment may be targeted to areas not mastered on the original assessment.

  • Requirements to reassess, such as attending tutoring sessions and/or completing remedial assignments, will be determined by campus guidelines.

This retest policy would not include major assessments classified as projects which follow project guidelines. Projects can include but are not limited to presentations, physical or electronic products, speeches, lab reports, writing assignments, etc. 

Eligibility Considerations

Students can lose their eligibility if they are failing at the end of the sixth week of school or at the end of a nine-week marking period. They can regain eligibility at the nine-week marking period or any Interim Progress Report (IPR) after the first nine-week marking period. 

“We want to provide every opportunity for our students to participate in extracurricular activities, and the nine-week structure will help us do that,” said David Kuykendall, Frisco ISD athletic director. “Students will have an increased chance to show they are succeeding in the classroom to maintain eligibility.”

Community members who have questions should check the Frequently Asked Questions page and may ask any additional questions here.

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