Dallastown Area School District next year will roll out a new scheduling format for its high school students.

The school board voted unanimously recently to approve a three-semester school year, marking a shift from the more commonly used two-semester schedule.

By using trimester scheduling, administrators and teachers hope students will be able to spend more time in the classroom, digging deeper into the given subject matter, according to a letter to parents from Assistant Superintendent Joshua Doll.

Students at Dallastown Area High School have been operating under the same eight-period day since the school first opened its doors. The current system features a two-semester school year, with each 90-day half making up one semester. Students at the end of each semester get mid-term grades for full-year classes, and final grades for semester classes and then transition into a new, second semester schedule.

Next year's new schedule will instead split the year into three semesters with students taking fewer courses at one time. The trimester format will also shift from 42-minute courses to 68-minute courses.

All band, choir and orchestra courses are scheduled to run all three trimesters, and students will be allowed to apply for one study hall per trimester.

High School Principal Kevin Duckworth noted what he believed to be several advantages to the new schedule, including increased depth of study and higher quality work, the ability for students to focus on fewer courses at one time, a greater variety of courses over the course of a year, and increased opportunity to complete Advanced Placement coursework before beginning the college application process.

Dallastown cites data from other school districts using a similar model that notes proper implementation has shown the school climate and culture improves.

The schedule redesign is a result of the district's six-year plan, which was developed by Dallastown's Comprehensive Planning Committee in 2013-14 school year. The committee outlined it as one of eight goals to be reached over the next several years.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at

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