TRIMESTER SCHEDULING


Introduction
At the core of
school reform is addressing the issues that create poor educational practice. Time is our most valuable resource. How we structure the day makes a large impact on the quality of teaching/learning environment. Most high schools currently operate under the traditional bell-to-bell, Carnegie model, featuring seven to eight class periods, ranging in time from forty to fifty-five minutes. Instructors who teach in this traditional model are often pressured by time constraints into the default setting of lecture-driven instruction. The “lecture,” when done well, is an effective way to introduce material, but when used as a primary instructional method, it does not coincide with what we know about meaningful learning and how it takes place.

Added instructional time per class session, when properly utilized, results in better instructional practice. A popular version of increasing time involves block scheduling, which became popular in the later 1980's. While allowing for longer instructional periods, the block does not address other instructional issues in its current format.

A typical high school teacher will see between 125-150 students daily. The time requirements to provide meaningful feedback and engagement with this many students during any given instructional semester is daunting to say the least. We often wonder why “scantron” and other multiple-choice type assessments are so widely used. Many teachers faced with a large number of students are forced to adopt methods of assessment that focus on lower-order thinking skills, because they are often the only practical method available when forced with such an insurmountable work load. An instructor teaching high school English asked to teach writing is often especially tasked. We know that good teaching is synonymous with good feedback. How much quality feedback can be given when 150 papers need to be read, graded, and returned within a few days?

The flex trimester is designed to provide both a longer instructional period and a lower student-to-
teacher ratio. In our planned implementation of the trimester, our student-to-teacher ration will fall from
125-150 : 1 to a more manageable 80-100 : 1. Students benefit from the additional scheduling of fewer subjects at any given time.



Trimester Scheduling


Essential Components
  • Three Twelve-Week Grading Periods = Trimester
  • Five class periods a day with sixty-five minute classes
  • Thirty-five minutes for lunch is offset by a thirty-five minute Advisory period.
  • Students take five classes per trimester.
  • Class times rotate daily.






Schedule
1. 8:30-9:35

2. 9:40 - 10:45

3. 10:55 - 12:00

Lunch A / Advisory A. 12:00 - 12:35
Lunch B / Advisory B. 12:35 - 1:10

4. 1:15 – 2:20

5. 2:25 - 3:30


  • The start time is radically later than most high schools. Research indicates that high school students, and teenagers in general, perform better with a later start. High schools are often pressured to start the day earlier in order to accommodate athletics in the afternoon. Sports and activities play a vital role in the development of many children, but they should not drive the schedule of the school.

  • The later start allows for many clubs and groups to meet before school. The late start also allows students to experience a wider variety of activities. If clubs have their meeting times before school, student-athletes are more able to participate in non-athletic, co-curricular activities.

  • Additionally, faculty development could take place before school. The issue of time is always critical to staff development, and traditional pressures make the task difficult.


Schedule Matrix
Day
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thur
Fri
1
A
B
C
D
E
2
B
C
D
E
A
3
C
D
E
A
B
4
D
E
A
B
C
5
E
A
B
C
D

  • The rotating schedule of class periods allows for students to experience their classes at various times over the course of the week. This also allows for students who do participate in athletics, and may have to leave early for a game or contest, not to be overly penalized by missing the same class repeatedly.


Minute Break Down
Current: Semester Class
=
4,050 minutes
Current: Year-Long Class = 8,100 minutes


Trimester Class = 3,900 minutes [time lost = 150 min.]
2 Trimester Class = 7,800 minutes [time lost = 300 min.]
Trimester Classes Added Due to Extra Electives = 4 [time gained = 15,600 min.]



  • Issues remain to the validity of having 96% of the minutes met with this schedule. One critique of the Carnegie model is the lost time to duplicity of attendance tasks and increased need for homework.

  • The issue of lost minutes is worth discussing. An argument can be made that the 4% reduction in minutes is not as critical as one thinks. The course of a high school week is often interrupted with unnecessary assemblies which could, in this model, be scheduled for the Advisory period. An administrative focus on reducing the number of assemblies is also important for the success of this model.

  • A traditional year-long course would consist of two of the three trimesters. whereas, a traditional semester-long course would equal one trimester.