Lewiston elementary grades switching to trimester system

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LEWISTON — Next year, Lewiston elementary students will get three report cards instead of four, a move some may cheer, except those who get parental rewards for good report cards.

The school department is doing away with quarterly rankings for K-6 students and adopting trimester grading periods.

The change is applauded by teachers, who say the growing amount of fall testing, combined with reviews teachers need to do after the summer vacation, doesn’t leave much time to report how students are doing.

The change will not impact school vacations or the school calendar.

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Next year, the first report card will come out Nov. 23, the second on March 8, the third June 9.

Normally the first report card is handed out in early November.

“This gives us two extra weeks before the progress reports come out,” said Martel Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Elizabeth Courchesne. Two extra weeks may not sound like a lot, but it is, she said.

Now teachers have to send out progress reports without many grades to establish an average. The change will mean progress reports and report cards will give parents “a truer picture of their child’s ability,” Courchesne said.

On March 29, the Lewiston School Committee voted for a recommendation from Superintendent Leon Levesque to approve trimester report cards and three progress report notifications instead of four.

Many schools are already on a trimester schedule, Assistant Curriculum Developer George Veilleux said Monday.

The fall schedule became more jammed when the state changed when students are testing from March to October, Veilleux said. The state tests, the New England Common Assessment Program, take nearly a full week of class time, not counting make up, educators said.

Lewiston’s tests to monitor student progress, the Northwest Educational Assessments, take three hours, not counting makeup. They’re given in September.

Before the testing, teachers help students understand the tests they’ll be taking. “That takes a lot of practice, but it’s not graded,” Courchesne said. The reviews, test instruction, test taking and makeup tests are disruptive to teaching, she said.

When asked if parents will have less time to find out how their children are doing in school since there’ll be fewer progress reports given, and they’ll come out later, Veilleux said more parents will have the ability to check their children’s progress online 24/7.

“At any time parents should feel free to contact the school,” Veilleux said. And next year, Lewiston schools will allow parents of third- and fourth-graders to follow their child’s grades online through Power School.

Now, Lewiston parents of fifth- through 12th-graders can look at their child’s grades online. That ability is being extended to the parents of third- and fourth-graders this fall, Veilleux said.

Auburn elementary schools already have trimester ranking periods. “The main reason is to allow students more time between report card periods to make progress toward the grade-level expectations,” said Assistant Superintendent Katy Grondin. It also allows teachers to develop plans to help each student’s achievement, she said.

Lewiston considered the trimester schedule for the middle school and high school, but for now will keep the quarterly ranking periods.

“The upper grades will still use quarters because of the way many courses are designed. They tend to be half-year courses,” Veilleux said. “But we are going to pursue looking at this for upper levels.”

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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