Pro v Con: Should MCPS Use Trimesters in High Schools?

MCPS has always run on the semester system. But is this really the most effective way to break up the year? Two Warrior writers argue the merits of each side.

Pro: Trimesters are Worth a Shot

by Jimmy Yates ‘21

Montgomery County always has had a two-semester school system. Switching to trimesters for high school has many advantages and is a much better option than semesters. Instead of two sets of 18 weeks, trimesters would divide the school year into three sets of 12 weeks. This would allow students more opportunities to take non-core classes (electives) and to stop worrying about cramming in all the necessary credits into schedules. Non-core classes would only last one trimester, while core classes would last all three trimesters, the same total length as two semesters. By shortening electives to one semester, teachers can evaluate the curriculum and get rid of any unnecessary activities, while core classes would still maintain their regular amount.

Usually, when switching from semesters to trimesters, high schools adopt a block schedule. For MCPS there could be five class periods each day and extend them to 66 minutes each. Some may think that this is too long to sit in one class. However, this extended time allows teachers to fit more information into each lesson and allows students to absorb more information than the shortened class periods. In addition, by only going to five classes each day, students’ homework workload is reduced from their seven-class homework load, allowing them more free time and opportunity for extracurricular activities.

With the semester system, student eligibility for each semester has been awkwardly applied to each sport season. A bonus of Trimesters offers a much better option for student eligibility than semesters do, as each trimester applies to the following sport season, so there is one trimester per sport/club season, instead of two semesters for three seasons.


Con: Trimesters Would Never Work Well

by Ryan Duvall ‘21

The concept of having a trimester schedule, compared to a traditional school calendar, has been implemented in some colleges and public school systems across the country. The trimester is much different than the typical two semester/ four quarter school year. Within these trimesters, students would take five classes a day. Core classes for all three trimesters, with electives in the third; seems like no problem, right? Well how about sitting through what could be a grueling 66 minute class period in order to get the necessary amount of time into a day of school.

Already facing scheduling problems due to school starting after Labor Day, MCPS is not ready for another school calendar debate.The concept of making a different school schedule would be very hard on teachers and administration, forcing them to spend longer hours at school throughout the summer to plan. The staff would need to go through the process of re-doing students schedules, which can be a very time-consuming task. Another big issue for students is the fact that they will be taking all core classes for the first two trimesters. With no electives for those first two trimesters students will struggle because they will have no mental break from all the tough core classes.

The trimester schedule creates the possibility of a one-month summer break, which will absolutely drive students crazy. They will have very little time to relax from the stress that school constantly puts them under. We need students to have an enjoyable time in school so they can succeed. These trimesters will not allow that to happen. The schools that have implemented this will be seeing these problems in the near future, and will be forced to revert back to a two semester schedule.