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SKSD officials monitoring switch from trimesters to semesters
Change often creates challenges.
And South Kitsap School District officials are still monitoring the switch from trimesters to semesters at South Kitsap High School.
“We’re just into it a short amount of time,” SKHS principal Jerry Holsten said. “It’s been a huge endeavor and a huge task. Staff has just done a phenomenal job in that adjustment.”
The change was came in June 2012 when district officials, including Holsten and former superintendent Dave LaRose made the executive decision to switch, but it was not implemented until this fall. LaRose said that stemmed from the desire to study what model makes the most sense for SKSD, and look at other districts that recently have switched from a trimester to semester schedule.
SKSD officials wanted to make the transition for a couple of reasons. One stemmed from the desire to streamline the district’s three junior highs, which were on a semester system, with the high school. The other was because the state requires students to take classes, such as health, for a semester. Based on the old system, students at the high school would have to take two trimesters of that class to meet graduation requirements, which could inhibit their opportunity to take an elective.
“By making the shift, we now have all of the secondary schools aligned to the same credit value for their courses,” said Shannon Thompson, SKSD’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
SKHS principal Jerry Holsten said he and others still are evaluating the change to see what “could be tweaked to meet the needs of the students and staff, then we’ll continue to make those adjustments.”
District officials contemplated moving toward a four-period day, which would have provided more class options but less instructional time. But they elected to stay with the traditional block schedule rather than a daily rotation between six classes. For example, a student might take algebra, theater and biology on an “A” day and then English, government and physical education on a “B” day. Holsten said that enabled credit values to remain the same during the switch as students still can earn six credits per year. He said there remains an option to earn even more credits through classes that begin before school and the Running Start Program.
Students have fewer elective options this school year based on the switch from trimesters and the district’s personnel cuts, Holsten said. He added that means some electives are not offered now, but could return based on student demand.
“Those courses have not gone away,” said Holsten, adding that eight career-technical education classes were added during the summer. “They would be — for lack of a better term — archived.”
Another area Holsten and others are monitoring is physical education. Under the former system, students would rotate between fitness, swim and weights. Holsten said they still are able to do that on a quarter basis, but that leaves the final one of the year open. He said physical education teachers have suggested that students choose which of the three subjects “they would like to have a deeper and more in depth learning with.”
“It’s not the same, it’s a deeper experience.”
With the semester ending Jan. 31, Holsten also is looking into quarterly progress reports for students. SKSD held parent-teacher conferences last week.
“We’re also taking a look at where we fit conferences and different types of things to make sure we get accurate information to parents and students as far as student progress,” he said.
SKSD students and parents also have had access to the Skyward program since the 2009-10 school year. Attendance records and grades are available through Skyward for students at the district’s junior highs and SKHS.