These talking point come from one of our commenters. I've chatted with some board members on the subject and it sounds like the high school changes are fairly far along with no alternatives even on the table. So time is short to make improvements here. The recommendation was to send mail pointing out problems with the plan. I'll also summarize all the comments here in a letter to the board at a point when there are enough to makes sense.
3x5 schedule talking points:
The district is considering changing all high schools to a 5 period, 3 trimester schedule (3x5) as a means of helping students meet the new 24-credit graduation requirement in WA State. Instead of a classes meeting 180 days a year for 6 periods a day, classes would meet 120 days a year for 5 periods a day. In theory, students would have the ability to take more classes per year and thereby increase their opportunities to meet the 24-credit graduation requirement. In reality, the 3x5 schedule poses many challenges, and may limit the class options for students.
How would a 3x5 schedule work?
A class that would normally meet 180 days is compressed into 120 days over the course of two trimesters. A traditional 6 period schedule allows for (6) 50-55 minute classes per day; a 3x5 schedule might have (5) 60-65 min classes per day. A typical course would last two out of the three trimesters, though not necessarily consecutive trimesters.
How does a 3x5 schedule increase credit opportunities for students?
If students filled their schedules each year, they could potentially earn 30 credits over 4 years, or 7.5 credits per year, compared to the current schedule that allows for 24 credits over 4 years, or 6 credits per year.
What challenges would a 3x5 schedule pose?
> Course content would likely be reduced. A3x5 schedule attempts to cover the same content with 33% fewer classes per year. While classes are slightly longer (60-65 min. in a 3x5 schedule vs. the 50-55 min. in a typical 6 period day), it would be a challenge to cover the same material in 120 days compared to the current 180 days. It would be especially challenging for math and science classes that are paced for covering a topic a day.
> Course continuity would be compromised. A class might meet first and third trimester, with a gap in the second trimester, and no guarantee of the same teacher each trimester. There could be an 8-9 month gap year over year if a course was covered in first and second trimester, then in second and third trimester of the following year.
> Students may not be able to schedule the minimum 6 credits per year, or meet IB diploma requirements, due to the scheduling restrictions. AP and IB classes, with national and international exams on fixed schedules in May of each year, would need to meet in the first and second trimesters of the school year. Students would not only have fewer days of class to cover a significant amount of material, but they would need to self study for the May exams. There would be limited opportunities for year-long electives such as music, or even a needed 6th credit, as the schedule would be full in the first and second trimesters.
How do other districts manage a 3x5 schedule with the demands of AP and IB classes?
Very few districts with a 3x5 schedule offer the same number of AP and IB courses as Seattle area schools. Some districts schedule an optional zero period (lengthen the school day), or offer AP and IB study sessions outside of the 5 period day.
Here's a link to the official page from the district: https://www.seattleschools.org/families_communities/committees/graduation_requirement/