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Switching to Trimesters


January 15, 2003

Years ago our high school tried the trimester and stayed with it for several years. We did 4 periods a day, thus a student could earn 6 credits per year. Problems occurred with transfers in and out, scheduling students 3x a year (before computers did it), and teachers adapting instruction to longer class periods, fewer days of class. If a student did not pass the first half of a course, that part was repeated immediately. It did allow my own kids to speed up their math classes and earn 3 credits sequentially in 2 years' time. We, and many others in our area of northeastern NC, are now on the block schedule. A student attends 4 classes per day, 90 minutes each, and earns a full credit in one semester of instruction. This way they can earn 8 credits in a year. They must earn 6 to advance. This schedule seems very popular because longer blocks of time are great for many lab and workshop type classes. The music classes are the greatest challenge under this schedule because it is desirable to have band and chorus meeting all year instead of just a semester. There are real advantages academically for either acceleration or remediation since students are expected to earn 6 of 8 possible credits. Students not passing 8th grade exit standards stay in remedial English or Math and get credit only once, no matter how many semesters it takes, to pass that 8th grade level class. Then they can take standard English and Math classes.

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