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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Trimester Schedule Q&A

What support will teachers receive for preparing for this change?

A trimester transition team is guiding the planning and preparation for implementation. This team includes central office staff, school administrators, counselors and HEA representation.

Sub-committees for each content area will include 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 then met to analyze options. In Spring 2016, nearly 1,500 people participated in a Thoughtexchange online conversation and families participated in community meetings held across the district.

After reviewing feedback gathered in 2016, a broader committee that included parents did further research into schedule options. The committee narrowed the options to the 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 are 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 of their core academic requirements. Review an example schedule of a student enrolled in band all four years. 

A course that is currently a year-long class will be completed in 2 trimesters. A student may not have any instruction in that subject for a trimester or longer. How will that gap impact learning?

There are a number of ways to address this issue.

An approach used by some trimester schools is to give students the opportunity to start the next course in the sequence right away the following trimester, rather than waiting until fall.

We could designate some courses, such as math, as three- rather than two-trimester courses. Or we could give students who need extra time a third trimester of the course, while students who have mastered the content move on to another course (such as an elective) in third trimester.

How will having the opportunity to take more courses prepare students for college and career?

Students will be able to expand their learning in an area of interest and/or to go deeper in a pathway such as STEM (science, technology, math, engineering) or the humanities (social sciences, language arts, world languages). Students will be exposed to a greater variety of subject areas that could lead to a career.

What do we know about other districts using the trimester system?

Washington districts successfully using the trimester system are:

  • Kelso (graduation rate: 89%)
  • Sunnyside (graduation rate: 90%)

Washington districts moving to trimesters include:

  • Renton (switched to trimesters in September 2018)
  • Oak Harbor (will switch to trimesters in September 2019)

How will we address the time gaps between courses in core subjects?

Some courses could be structured as three trimesters rather than two. This would provide more instruction time in a subject and eliminate the third-trimester gap. We are currently deciding which courses to structure this way. Your input is welcome!

How will course content be covered in fewer weeks per term?

We are addressing this in a number of ways:

  • Class periods will be longer, so there is more instruction time per period.
  • Some courses will run for three trimesters.
  • Lessons can be restructured to focus in on key learning standards that prepare students for college and career.