GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids and West Ottawa public
schools have already announced a move back to semesters next year, while other
West Michigan high schools are remaining on a trimester schedule, according to
The Grand Rapids Press.
Administrators told The Press that the main reason is
academic. Students need a full year to master the content in courses now
required for graduation, such as algebra II, they told The Press. They also
said that semester scheduling requires fewer teachers and so will save on
instructional costs, according to The Press.
The semester plan typically divides the school year into
two, 18-week learning periods, while trimesters divide the same time into three
12-week periods. Under the trimester system, a student would complete algebra
II in 24 weeks, compared to 36 weeks under a semester plan.
"We heard from teachers over and over how challenging
it is to cover all the content in a trimester," Jane DeGroot, Grand Rapids
Public Schools director of secondary leadership, told The Press. Another factor
is that Grand Rapids plans to switch to more online instruction next year, and
that coursework is organized in semester format, according to The Press.
Meanwhile, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael
Shibler told The Press that trimesters give students more opportunity for
elective courses like foreign language and art.
Some districts have a trimester schedule, but allow students
to take more difficult courses over the course of three trimesters, The Press
The Grand Rapids Press, "Two
of West Michigan's largest school districts revert from trimester to semester
scheduling to save money," March 26, 2010
Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation
requirements in action," May 6, 2008