As a community, we set a bold goal of 19 out of 20 students graduating. This is no small task, given that graduating is not getting easier, and in fact, new state graduation requirements make it tougher.
But what if we could set up a system that gives our students every chance of meeting these new requirements and does a better job of preparing them for the future they choose? A committee of teachers, parents and district leaders has been working on that for the past year.
The high school course schedule we have today leaves students with no second chances if they fail even one class and gives them very narrow learning opportunities outside core academic requirements.
The committee looked at adding credit-earning opportunities outside of our current six-period day. That works for some students, but not all. We need a system that serves every student.
After two years of study and feedback from staff and families, we have decided to move to a five-period trimester system, starting in fall 2020. This schedule is similar to many college schedules. There are fewer weeks in a term, but class periods are longer and students have fewer courses per term.
This will require significant changes to the way we teach in order to cover the required material in shorter terms. Our teachers will need to adapt lesson plans and teaching strategies. We will provide the professional development, time and support teachers need to get prepared by fall 2020.
The five-period trimester system has its challenges; but it also presents a significant opportunity our students do not have in our current semester system. And the costs of not changing are significant: fewer students will graduate on time, and no students will have access to a broader array of course options.
Our students are smart and capable, and they will adapt to the new system. I am confident our teachers and staff will adapt, too. We owe it to our students to provide every opportunity to graduate prepared for the future they choose.
We opened a Thoughtexchange to get your input on what we need to be thinking about as we plan for this transition. The conversation is now closed. Check back for results soon!