Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Fallbrook High switching to trimester schedule next year

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Next fall, Fallbrook High School will shift from having two semesters a year to a trimester system, trustees of the Fallbrook Union High School District were told at their Oct. 24 meeting.

Emily Toone, director of curriculum, made a presentation to the board. She said the change was initiated by staff and that a poll of staff teachers and administrators showed a majority supported the change.

In the current two-semester format, students take six courses a day, earning 5 units per course each semester, a maximum of 240 units in four years without summer school. There are 230 units required for graduation, so only two semester classes can be failed or missed.

With the trimester plan, there are 300 credits possible, still with 230 needed for graduation. Instead of two 18-week sessions a year, there will be three 12-week sessions. Either way, that’s 36 weeks a school year.

Classroom time per unit would be the same, since trimester classes will be 65-70 minutes each, compared to 58 minutes in the semester format. And there will be five classes a day next year, compared to six under the semester formula.

Toone said the schedule would allow first or fifth period to be for community college courses, work experience or athletic endeavors. The semester plan has meant some students have missed opportunities for electives or higher-level classes they may have desired.

She noted that the trimester schedule of fall, winter and spring aligns with the sports seasons. Students on sports teams have had trouble with 5th and 6th periods classes when their sport is in season.

In both systems, students see their teachers daily, but students likely won’t have the same six teachers yearlong in the trimester schedule, she said.

High schools in the Poway school district are on a similar trimester format and a few other schools in the county have slightly different formats than the traditional semester method.

Superintendent Ilsa Garza-Gonzalez said another reason the trimester plan – with more class options – is that the state is requiring ethnic studies be added by 2026. The district is also considering the addition of a life skills curriculum.

Contacted after the meeting, Garza-Gonzalez said 46% of the staff that participated in the survey selected the trimester schedule.

“Everyone was asked to participate,” she explained. “It may appear that 46% is not a majority but there were two other options that staff could elect.”

There are informational sessions planned with teachers, counselors and student, the superintendent said. Four information nights begin this month for parents.

Toone pointed out other benefits of the trimester program:

• Students can accelerate in math and world languages.

• Students can retake a course.

• Students can take an “off-roll” period if certain criteria are met.

• Students can explore various electives and/or take additional core classes.

Toone also pointed out that two trimesters are equivalent to a yearlong course in a semester system. Also, some courses may be gapped by a trimester or summer break. Students may have one teacher for the first trimester of a course and a different teacher for the second trimester of the course.


Reader Comments(0)