Major and Minor Grading Periods

Overview

Grading periods — quarters, semesters, trimesters, etc. — can be further defined in Veracross as major, minor, or mid-periods. Whether a particular grading period, e.g., the first quarter or second trimester, is major or minor at a school depends on how the grading periods should interact with each other to produce an overall picture of students’ work. In brief:

  • Minor grading periods are typically the reporting periods, i.e., the points of the year when teachers enter grades and comments separately from their day-to-day gradebook and those results are reported to parents via report cards. Common examples are the quarters in a four-quarter year.
  • Major grading periods are calculated based on minor grading periods. Common examples are semesters in a four quarter/two semester year.
  • Mid-periods — grading periods that are neither major nor minor — are used to generate “snapshots” of grades at a particular moment, but are not factored into the final grade. A common example is a mid-quarter or mid-semester progress report that is sent home.

The purposes of this article are to:

  1. define and highlight the differences between major and minor grading periods
  2. list some commonly used grading period configurations

Grading periods are typically configured when a school first  implements Veracross core academics, and thereafter only when changing grading period configuration. Schools should not unilaterally update the “major” or “minor” status of a grading period without checking with their account manager.

Grading Period Options: Minor, Major, and Mid-Periods

Minor Grading Periods: Minor grading periods — sometimes called “marking periods” — are the reporting periods in which teachers enter grades and comments, which are in turn reported to parents via report cards. The minor grading period is also when grade records are generated, which are used, in part, to calculate the grade in a major grading period. Minor grading periods are the only type of grading period that will appear in the Gradebook.

Major Grading Period: Commonly referred to as a term period, this is a grading period that is calculated based upon minor grading periods, as well as weighted exams. It is usually considered to be a final grade for the class that will post to the student’s transcript. In order to calculate a major grading period correctly, make sure that Grading Period Begin Date and the Grading Period End Date correctly line up with the dates of those of the minor grading periods.

Example: MINOR1 has Grading Period Start/End Dates of 8/30/2019 and 10/30/2019. MINOR2 has Grading Period Start/End Dates of 10/31/2019 and 12/31/2019. In order for MAJOR1 to consist of MINOR1 and MINOR2, it must have Grading Period Start/End Dates of 8/30/2019 and 12/31/2019.

Mid-Periods: A mid-period is used to generate a snapshot of a grade for a progress report, enabling parents/students to see their current academic performance without it being calculated toward a final grade. Mid-periods do not affect class schedule records, can overlap with each other, but must be contained within a minor grading period.

Example: MINOR1 begins on 8/1/2019 and ends 12/31/2019. MID1 begins on 8/1/2019, ends on 9/15/2019, and is designed to show student progress for the first quarter of the minor grading period. MID2 starts 8/1/2019, ends on 10/15/2019, and is designed to show student progress through the first half of the minor grading period. MID3 starts on 8/3/2019, ends on 11/15/2019, and is designed to show student progress through the first three quarters of the minor grading period.

Commonly Used Grading Period Configurations

The following are common grading period configuration scenarios:

Scenario: Quarters and Semesters

The school has four quarters and two semesters. Quarters One and Two are used to calculate Semester One, and Quarters Three and Four are used to calculate Semester Two.

Configuration: All four quarters should be minor grading periods and both semesters should be major. Semester One’s Grading Period Start Date matches that of Quarter One, and its End Date matches Quarter Two’s. The same is true (all other things being equal) for the second half of the year.

Scenario: Mid-Periods or Mid-Quarters

 

The school has four quarters and two semesters. Halfway through each quarter, the school likes to send home a progress report to let parents know how their child is performing academically.

Configuration: This is identical to the “Quarters and Semesters” scenario above, except with the addition of Mid-Period grading periods. Each Mid-Period has the same start date as the quarter that it corresponds to, but has an end date of halfway through the quarter. Because these Mid-Periods are meant as snapshots of academic performance and are not being used to calculate anything, they are neither major nor minor grading periods.

Scenario: Trimesters

The school has three independent trimesters, all of which are equally weighted (a third each) in calculating the final grade.

Configuration: All three trimesters are both major grading and minor grading periods. They are major because they are term grades that produce the final grade, and they are also minor because, in Veracross, major grading periods MUST be informed by minor ones. One way to think of this is that there is both a Trimester One minor grading period and a Trimester One major grading period that happen to start and end on the same date.

Scenario: Semesters Only

The school has two semesters, but no quarters. Teachers keep a running grade until the end of the semester, where they then issue a final grade for the class.

Configuration: Since the semesters are only being informed by themselves and no quarters within it, each semester should be both a major and a minor grading period.