Trimester format at SVHS is no longer on the table for 2022-2023
◆ Trimesters proved too problematic.
Last fall, administrators at Star Valley High School began exploring the possibility of transitioning the high school schedule for a semester format to a trimester format. Reasoning for the exploration boiled down to an effort to optimize each student’s time and set each student up for the highest level of success possible. Administrators explored relieving student homework load and decreasing the daily amount of time spent in heavy academic classes.
After several months of debate and study, however, the administration determined that, for now, the high school will maintain a semester format.
“We evaluated our current schedule under the parameters that we evaluated trimesters and discovered that kids at Star Valley generally don’t take eight core classes or classes that have a big homework commitment all at once,” explained Jason Horsley, SVHS Principal, in an interview with SVI News. “They also take a variety of things – music, PE, team sports and other vocational classes.” This discovery indicated that students weren’t carrying the heavy load that had concerned administrators.
Choosing trimesters over semesters would have also reduced the number of credits required to graduate from SVHS by one credit, which established a problem for a pathway program that the school is working on creating. Counselors and academic advisors are currently working to create a pathway for students to earn their post high school associates degree along with their high school diploma.
“The decrease in one credit to 15 instead of 16 per year created a challenge with our Associate degree that we are working toward offering to students to earn during high school,” added Horsley. “Those kids would have had to do something extra in order to get that associates degree.”
Concerns with the semester format are still very real in the administration’s opinion. Students’ attention span and ability to focus are heavily taxed with the 160-day schedule of four classes a day that last 90 minutes each.
“We don’t have a great solution for that,” said Horsley. “The way to do that would be to decrease each class’s length by adding a class period, and we are not interested in giving kids 10 classes at a time. That has been a huge challenge to solve. Long classes might be in the future for Star Valley kids – it’s already been that way. But that was one of the reasons we were looking at Trimesters – to try to decrease class length.”
With many students being concerned about fitting their desired and needed classes into the Trimester schedule, Horsley and counselors met with those students and their parents to work through the challenge and ensure that the trimester format would still serve every student well. Counselors were able to create schedules for most students that met their needs, but some factors, like extra college credit classes and honors classes, would have been negatively impacted by the change.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s dead, but it didn’t seem to be the feasible thing to do next year, so we just said, ‘If the data doesn’t show that we can do it, we’ll just wait and see if there is a better solution,’” concluded Horsley.