Unlike many other high schools in the state, Montgomery County high-school courses are organized by semester. After they return from finals, students receive a new schedule, with new courses and teachers. However, creating classes that last only one semester is disruptive and confusing to students.
Creating good relationships between students and teachers is believed to have positive impact on students' grades and overall happiness, according to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (ncrel.org). Year-long classes allow teachers to get to know their students so that they can work together to find the best method of learning for the student. Year-long classes also allow teachers to spend enough time with their students to discover and understand their students' personalities, interests and abilities. A closely-knit relationship makes teachers' recommendations for college and other scholarships or programs easier and stronger.
The switch in classes in the middle of the year makes the semester transition harder. Teachers can spend an entire class period or more reviewing old material and going over class rules and procedures. Students are also prone to making mistakes if they have to adjust to new stylistic and organizational requirements. Teachers must address the questions of students whose first-semester teachers did not cover the same material. If courses were year-long, students would spend less time in transition and more time learning in class.
All the time spent completing organizational assessments and reviewing grading policies could be better spent continuing with the curriculum. With all of the inclement weather Montgomery County has experienced this year and last year, most teachers cannot afford to waste class time.
Guidance counselors would also have a lightened load if they did not have to create two schedules every year. After schedules are distributed at Blair, the line to see the guidance counselor seems to be 100 people long. Many students spend a week or more in the wrong class before their change is approved.
Year-long courses would provide continuity in learning, foster better student-teacher relationships and make the week after finals less demanding for students, teachers and counselors.
Caitlin Garlow. Caitlin is a second-semester senior at last. Her favorite things include making fun of her homeless sister and hunting down her clothes in other people's closets. More »