Stakeholder group evaluating 4J high schools’ trimester common schedule and its implementation
Four years ago, Eugene School District 4J moved to align all high schools to a common schedule, in order to support student learning and increase operational efficiency. After a staff work group and public input process, a trimester schedule with five 70-minute periods per day (often called the 3×5 schedule) was selected and implemented in 4J’s comprehensive high schools.
Now that the trimester schedule has been in place for a few years, it is time to review how well the schedule is working for students and whether any changes should be made to support student success.
The school district and the Eugene Education Association (the union representing teachers and licensed specialists) are collaborating in an inclusive process to evaluate the schedule and its implementation and develop a recommendation. The evaluation process will include gathering information from parent, student, staff and community stakeholders through an online survey, focus groups and interviews; reviewing data on student outcomes; and conducting an extensive literature review of research on high school schedules using stakeholder-developed criteria.
The final recommendation may be to continue with the schedule currently in place, to make adjustments to the current schedule, or to implement a different common schedule for high schools.
About the common schedule
4J’s four comprehensive high schools follow a common schedule.
Until the district decided in 2012 to implement a standard high school schedule, every 4J high school had a different schedule. The number of class periods, the length of terms, the number of credits earned each year, and the amount of instructional time students received all varied from school to school. 4J high schools now use a common schedule.
Having a common schedule does not mean that the high schools have a uniform bell schedule or that they all offer the same courses. Each high school emphasizes different programs, offers some different classes, and retains its own unique style.
The common schedule defines such things as that schools have the same number of weeks per term (e.g. trimesters, semesters or quarters), the same number of class periods each day within the regular bell schedule, the same length of class periods, the same number of credits per course per term, the same amount of learning time available to students, and the same amount of teaching and prep time for teachers. The purpose is to make schedules and time for learning consistent and equitable across schools.
About the trimester schedule
In moving to align high school schedules, the district first made the decision to have a common schedule for all comprehensive high schools, and then determined which schedule to implement.
A staff work group studied different schedule options and weighed the costs and benefits of each. Parents, students, staff and the public were invited to provide input.
The common schedule work group recommended that the district implement a trimester schedule with three 12-week terms per year and five 70-minute periods each day (often called the “3×5” schedule, because students have 3 terms with 5 classes each). The recommendation was approved in early 2012.
The new schedule was implemented at Churchill High School in 2012–13 and at North Eugene, Sheldon and South Eugene High School in 2013–14.
About the evaluation process
The school district and the Eugene Education Association (EEA, the union representing teachers and licensed specialists) are engaging collaboratively in a system-wide, inclusive process in spring 2016 to evaluate the trimester common schedule and its implementation and develop a recommendation about how to move forward.
The inclusive research design will engage key stakeholders in a careful research and evidence-based process to generate a recommendation of the preferred high school common schedule for Eugene School District 4J. The research design will employ the most rigorous methods in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.
A stakeholder group engaging teachers, other school staff, parents and students is the core of this process. Focus groups and interviews have gathered input from additional stakeholders have provided input through All interested parents, students, staff and community members were invited to provide input through a public survey between Feb. 22 and March 7, 2016.
The process also has included assessing on-the-ground data from before and after the schedule implementation regarding graduation rates, students on track for graduation, course grades and GPAs, test scores, student mobility, remediation and acceleration opportunities taken, costs, and more.
Finally, an evaluation team, composed of a subset of the large stakeholder group, has reviewed the community input and the data and research collected and is working to develop a recommendation.
Outcome of evaluation process
The evaluation team’s final recommendation to the superintendent may be to:
• Continue with the schedule currently in place
• Make adjustments to the current schedule, or
• Implement a different common schedule for all comprehensive high schools.
If the evaluation team votes to recommend a different common schedule, the recommendation will be referred for a vote of all high school licensed employees. If 2/3 or more of all those voting approve, the recommendation will be made to the superintendent. Otherwise the recommendation to the superintendent will be to remain with the status quo of the board-adopted 3×5 trimester schedule as 4J high schools’ common schedule.
The district’s goal is to ensure our high schools have the optimal schedule to support both student learning and operational efficiency for our schools.