After a two year process of researching school schedule options and taking feedback from staff, students and families, we have arrived at a decision on a new high school course schedule. Highline will switch from a semester system with a six-period day to a trimester system with a five-period day, starting in fall 2020. This change will help our students graduate prepared for the future they choose, whether that is college, technical training or a career.
Highline—and districts across the state—are changing high school course schedules so students can meet new, tougher state graduation requirements.
Starting with the Class of 2021, students must earn 24 credits to graduate. Our current schedule allows a limited opportunity for students to explore subjects outside required courses, such as the arts, journalism, and career/technical education. The 6-period day gives students only the bare minimum opportunity to earn enough credits to graduate in four years.
Advantages to the 5-period trimester system include:
- Students have ample opportunity to earn credits toward graduation.
- Students will have many more opportunities to explore a broad range of electives and academic areas outside core requirements.
- This schedule provides second chances for students who need to make up for missing credits.
- More students will graduate on time, and they will complete high school better prepared for college and career.
The five-period schedule creates some challenges for some students in certain programs or course sequences. We are confident we can address the challenges, working with families and staff to find solutions for the students with these specific scheduling issues.
Teachers, with district support, will have two years to prepare for the change. A trimester transition team will monitor and guide planning and preparation for the change. Professional development will be provided during summer learning sessions, PCT and release time for planning, collaboration, and preparing to teach in a longer class periods.
We have opened a Thoughtexchange to get your input on what we need to be thinking about as we plan for this transition. Please share your thoughts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What support will teachers receive for preparing for this change?
We will form a trimester transition team to monitor and guide the planning and preparation for implementation. This team will include central office staff, school administrators, counselors and HEA representation.
Sub-committees for each content area will comprise 4-5 teachers. These committees will focus on re-aligning frameworks and pacing guides.
Professional development will be provided during summer learning sessions, PCT and release time for planning, collaboration, and preparing to teach in a longer class periods.
What process was used to make this decision?
We devoted two years to studying schedule options and gathering input. A committee of teachers, counselors, school administrators and central office staff met over the course of this school year to analyze options. Nearly 1,500 people participated in a Thoughtexchange online conversation in spring 2016. Families participated in community meetings held across the district in spring 2016.
After reviewing feedback gathered in 2016, a broader committee that included parents did further research into schedule options. The committee narrowed the options to five-period trimester system and the six-period semester system (our current schedule), which both have pros and cons.
After reviewing all the data, Superintendent Enfield with the support of the school board determined that the trimester system is best to meet the needs of students.
Will middle schools also change to the trimester schedule?
Middle school administrators and district leaders researching adolescent development and needs during the middle years. Any change to the middle school schedule would be implemented in 2020 or later.
Will band and choral students be able to participate in their music classes year around?
Yes. Students will have enough credit-earning opportunities to take music all three trimesters and also fill all their core academic requirements.