Dallastown High schedule could change

Barb Murphy
For The York Dispatch

Students at Dallastown Area High School have had the same eight-period day since the school came into existence, but the schedule is likely to change with a new "trimester” plan in the works for the 2016-17 year.

In 2014, a planning committee of parents, students, community leaders and educators was formed, and it later determined the current schedule isn't the most effective, school officials said.

Because there are a lot of “moving parts” to the plan, it'll take time to put it into place, said Assistant Superintendent Joshua Doll. Currently, all students in grades 8-11 would be affected by the change.

The current system is a two-semester school year, with each 90-day half representing one instructional semester, Doll said. At the end of the first semester, students get mid-term grades for full-year classes, and final grades for semester classes. Then they start the second semester in the eight-period day.

The trimester formula would divide the year into three parts, with students taking fewer courses at one time, he said. Each semester goes for 60 days, and students receive final grades three times each year: mid-December, mid-March and early June. There would be no mid-term exams.

Under the trimester plan being considered, classes would be longer, shifting from 42 minutes to 68 minutes. At the end of each day will be a “Wildcat” period for enrichment, remediation, meetings, extra rehearsals or other pursuits.

All band, choir and orchestra courses would run for all three trimesters. Students could still earn up to six credits for their music courses.

Students could apply for one study hall per trimester.

York County schools recently received some good news about area graduation rates.

Some of the benefits, according to principal Kevin Duckworth, include the opportunity for an increased depth of study, the potential for higher quality work, being able to put more focus on fewer courses, and a larger variety of courses.

According to data from other participating school districts nationwide, proper implementation has shown that the school climate and culture improves.

Teachers have smaller student loads each term and can give students more one-on-one attention, school officials said.

With that improvement, teachers could have an increased ability to provide feedback on assessments in a timely manner, and can actually focus more on the lessened courses.

With fewer subjects for students to focus on, they can approach each course with more time and attention. Students can then fit additional electives into their schedules if they choose.

Duckworth said the trimester schedule provides expanded secondary course opportunities, such as more comprehensive Physics, Finance Management and Health, and Mythology.

According to an internal report, 95 percent of district teachers support the schedule.

There are some drawbacks to the proposed change as well.

Under the plan being considered, students will most likely change teachers between trimesters of the same course. The instructional pace may be quicker in some courses, and student scheduling will be more challenging and intense. Class sizes will be about the same as current semester schedule.

No school board vote has been scheduled for the change, but the board is expected to discuss it at upcoming meetings.