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Survey shows support for semester switch

December 04, 2013 - School semester/trimester survey results are in most respondents support switching back to semesters.

Administration offered the survey online through November, and met with PTAs around the district, said Shawn Ryan, deputy superintendent.

Of the 374 parents who responded to the survey, 227, 60.7 percent, agreed with the proposed switch; 60, 16 percent, were neutral, no opinion; and 87, 23.3 percent, disagreed.

"That's a fairly good survey size we're pretty pleased by the response," Ryan said. "It's not a popularity contest, but it confirms that our recommendation is strongly supported by majority of parents."

Respondents included parents of pre-K through high school, he said.

"Parents were well represented," he said. "They share our interest in improving student achievement."

Of the 67 teachers who responded, 38, 56.7 percent, agreed; 14, 20.9 percent, were neutral, no opinion; and 15, 22.4 percent, disagreed.

Concerns from parents include maintaining band and International Baccalaureate schedules in a new semester system, said Gary Kaul, Clarkston High School principal.

If approved, they'll adjust schedules as needed so students can take them, Kaul said.

If the switch is made, administration will evaluate it based on analysis of ACT, track failure, drop out rate, on-track to graduate percentage, as well as how students feel about it, student, parent, and teacher surveys, academic improvement per semester, and material covered, Ryan said.

"We're confident we can make the switch with no discernible difference with some improvement in curriculum," Kaul said.

The district switched from semesters to trimesters in 2008 to meet new credit requirements by the state. Evaluation since then showed semesters work better, Ryan said.

"This definitely makes the most sense for us moving forward," he said. "I don't anticipate five years from now, another shift."

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.

Clarkston Board of Education meets at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, at the district administration building, 6389 Clarkston Road.

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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