The Williamston Board of Education will change its long-standing double semester year at Williamston High School to a trimester year starting in the 2008-2009 school year.
The Board said the switch is an effort to better prepare its students and give them a higher quality of education.
Under the current schedule of two semesters a school year, students attend six one-hour long classes a day and receive six credits a year.
The new trimesters will only have five classes a day, but for a longer period of time and students will receive 7.5 credits a year.
The new trimesters are expected to enhance the student’s learning. Smaller class sizes help form closer relationships between students and teachers. This will hopefully allow the students to ask more questions and get more one on one time with the teachers.
With trimesters, class periods will be longer, also enhancing the learning experience. More time in class means students will have more time to understand material, ask questions, practice in class and perform lab assignments.
The district hopes trimesters will help better prepare students for college. It hopes fewer classes and longer class periods will more likely prepare students for a college schedule than the current double semester school year does. Like college, students will also be able to choose more classes that interest them instead of just high school requirements.
The school board also believes the trimesters will help the overall flow of the education. Longer class periods eliminate passing time, which will in return cause fewer disruptions that occur during that time.
The idea for trimesters came after the state changed its requirements for high school students. The state now mandates 18 specific credits for high school students
The school board feels that under the current schedule the new requirements hinder student’s learning. This would cut down the number of electives a student may take, and would also hinder the flexibility of scheduling the electives.
However the school board doesn’t think trimesters are perfect. Three semesters could mean three sets of finals and three sets of parent/teacher conferences. Trimesters may also allow more time for electives, but that could mean less time in core courses and condensed curriculum. Trimesters would most likely increase scheduling workloads on counselors as well.
Suzie Cockerill, a counselor at Williamston High School, said counselors are tackling the new schedules already. Students have been meeting with counselors to plan a new guideline, tailored to the trimesters, for the rest of their high school careers. Although, Cockerill points out scheduling isn’t the most difficult part.
“ You get your brain thinking on semesters for ever and ever,” Cockerill said and scheduling students for 15 classes a year instead of 12 has become difficult to get used to.
But the report says the overall advantages outweigh the concerns. In addition to the obvious reasons to make the switch, trimesters have other advantages. Greater choices and flexibility for the possibility of one, two or three semester courses is one such advantage. Fewer classes per term and fewer transitions are ideal for both students and faculty. Trimesters also eliminate having finals right after a major school break which would obviously be conducive to learning.
In the end the Williamston School Board decided the switch would better prepare students for college, better facilitate the new state requirements and improve the overall learning environment for students.