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More input sought for semester switch



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November 20, 2013 - School officials are seeking more parental input on a proposed switch from trimesters to semesters.

They set up an online survey and will provide responses to the Board of Education, said Deputy Superintendent Shawn Ryan.

Administration recommends returning to the semester system at Clarkston senior and junior high schools. Ryan presented the plan in October and asked the school board for a decision in November.

Administration now expects a vote in December, said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock.

They also set up focus groups at Clarkston elementary and middle schools to discuss the impact of a potential shift in scheduling.

The school district adopted trimesters for grades 8-12 in 2008 to help students meet new Michigan Merit Curriculum standards by providing more chances to take and retake core classes, and explore electives.

"At that time, the shift from a semester schedule to trimesters seemed to be in the best interest of our secondary students and staff, and it allowed for the offering and delivery of effective programming," Ryan said.

A committee of teachers, counselors, and principals evaluated the trimester system. They found class sequences were often broken up by a trimester, and semesters would allow more continuity and flexibility, with more opportunities for team teaching, he said.

"Since the advent of the trimester schedule, the district has kept close watch on the format and the effects that it has had on students and the secondary program overall," Ryan said.

Trimesters include three 60-day terms per year, each with five classes a day. The semester format has two 90-day terms per year, with six classes per day.

If approved, the switch would happen next school year. It would cost about $60,000 to update schedules and other material expenses.

For more information, call 248-623-5400.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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