The Shelby County School District kicked off the 2015-2016 school year by hosting Middle School and High School Summits for all teachers, counselors and administrators. The Middle School Summit was hosted by Calera Middle School, while the High School Summit was held at Helena High School.
The goal of each summit was to provide an Instructional Overview for the upcoming school year and to allow teachers to meet in their Professional Learning Communities (PLC) with job-alike teachers.
Middle School teachers focused on the unique characteristics of middle school students, including their social and emotions needs. They also reviewed the PLC process that will be implemented this year and were given helpful templates to use for the upcoming year.
High School teachers were given an overview of the new categorical grading system being implemented across the district. They also reviewed student ACT data and discussed specific strategies within each of their subject content areas to help students improve on the test next year.
Wayne Trucks, principal at Chelsea High School, and April Brand, principal at Helena High School, helped lead general session discussions aimed at making teachers more comfortable with the implementation of the new categorical grading system of Gold, Silver and Bronze, which will account for 60 percent, 30 percent and 10 percent of the student’s overall nine-week grade.
Chelsea High School has been using this grading process for almost six years, while Helena High School adopted it last year. Both Trucks and Brand explained that students pick up and adapt to the new grading system pretty quickly. They also guided teachers through the steps of what types of assignments would need to be included in each category.
The gold category (60 percent) will consist of major assignments, tests and projects. The silver category (30 percent) will consist of quizzes, assignments that build to a gold level project or paper, collaborative work, lab reports, classwork, etc.. The bronze category (10 percent) will be made up of homework, bellringers, participation, study guides, etc..
“This grading process is designed to help them be better prepared for what they will face in college, where the majority of their grades will be determined by a mid-term and a final exam,” Trucks explained to teachers. “The students adapt pretty quickly and understand what is expected of them if they want to earn a good grade.”
Dr. Lynn Cook, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, attended both summit events and reported that both were successful.
“We received very positive feedback from both events,” Dr. Cook said. “I want to give all of the credit to our middle school and high school program area specialists and coordinators for their hard work in pulling both of these summits together.”