EAST WENATCHEE — Semesters are out and trimesters are in at Eastmont High School this year.
The change is driven by the need to offer more credits at EHS, said Principal Lance Noell. It is the result of the state Board of Education’s new Core 24 graduation requirements.
The old schedule, in place since the 1970s, had two semesters a year, with six periods each day. Classes were 54 minutes. The new trimester schedule has five 70-minute periods a day.
The extra classes, and the credits that come with them, provide a buffer for struggling students so they can make up failed classes and still graduate on time. For the rest of the students, it means more electives.
The longer class periods also provide more time for students in advanced classes to prepare for testing and music classes to prepare for performances, Noell said.
Teachers will teach four periods a day, with a prep period, rather than the current five periods a day with a prep period. Year-long, they will end up teaching two more classes — 12 rather than 10.
“We have spent the last two years preparing for this change to trimesters,” Noell said. The hope is to work out all the kinks ahead of time. It comes with some challenges.
“Building the new schedule with all the new classes is complicated. It is also difficult to manage class times with other programs like Wenatchee Valley Tech Center and Running Start,” he said.
Administrators considered “every schedule imaginable,” Noell said, including a block schedule, modified block schedule, seven-period day and a trimester with six class periods.
Once they settled on the 3x5 schedule, the focus shifted to planning for implementation, adjusting pacing for current classes and making lesson plans for the new courses.
The other schools in the district also are transitioning to trimesters to help with conference date scheduling for parents and streamlining grading periods. The elementary schools are switching this year. Eastmont Junior High School and Clovis Point Intermediate School will switch in the 20/21 school year.
Noell said that while trimesters are new to EHS, they’re not entirely new to the district.
Elementary schools were on a trimester system about 10 years ago.
Across the river, Wenatchee High School is preparing for its third year of a new modified long-block class schedule also prompted by the state’s shift from 20 to 24 credits for graduation.
Students take four classes per day (though they still have some before-school classes in music, math and mock trial, which could boost that to five classes).
Some classes meet every day and are completed in a single semester, while others, referred to as the A/B classes, rotate days, with two classes one week and three classes the next, for the entire year. The new schedule provides up to 32 credits.
The previous schedule was six classes a day on Monday and Friday and four classes a day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
It was not received well by some parents and community members, though others have spoken out in favor. Its merits remain a topic of discussion at the board level.
* This story has been updated to correct the timing of the change from semesters to trimesters for EJHS and Clovis Point.