MCPS semester policy receives undue criticism
Every five months, Montgomery County high schools reorganize classes, reconfiguring class rosters and rearranging student schedules. These semester changes give students the ability to tailor their courses to meet their needs, creating college-like flexibility without the tuition.
This policy of "semesterization" is fully logical and ultimately necessary. In many instances, high schools offer single semester classes, classes which students use to meet pressing graduation requirements. The restriction of semester rescheduling would greatly decrease or even put an end to these classes and schools like Blair would be unable to offer as wide of a variety of courses.
Quite simply, semesterization is a solution, the side affects of which can be easily negated. For example,opponents of semesterization argue that the class changes require teachers to waste time re-explaining rules and procedures. This is a gross exaggeration. Twelfth grade English teacher, Norman Stant attests to this much, describing how the semester switch makes no significant impact on his teaching. "The beginning of the second semester is somewhat easier than the beginning of the year, but I only spend one day on procedure either way and so don't lose that much time," he said.
Another complaint against semesterization is that it consumes the energies of the guidance departments, energies which could supposedly be put to better use "elsewhere." But where else is it more beneficial for counselors to focus than optimizing the course selections of the student body? The switch between semesters allows counselors to seamlessly place their students into classes that match their preferences and academic obligations. Furthermore, most second semester schedules are created at the beginning of the year and do not distract counselors from their tasks during the year, as critics claim.
In fact, the semester switch is a huge relief to counselors. Because all schedules are ultimately changed, counselors can easily meet student requests for course switches at this time. Without semesterization, counselors would be forced to spend enormous amounts of time trying to adjust schedules without as much freedom as they have now.
In Blair, semesterization often comes as a surprise to first year students. The switch between classes in the middle of the year is a new experience – one that gives the school year a fresh perspective, without any of the usual first day jitters. Students who have excelled in their first semester classes normally have no problem with this switch, since the curricula is unchanged, while students who had problems in their first semester classes have the opportunity to start fresh.
Overall, semesterization promotes productivity. Students maximize what they can get out of their schedules and increase the possibility of getting into a class that they like. This policy is undoubtedly the fairest and most flexible option.
Kedamai Fisseha. Kedamai Fisseha sorely misses the computer lab where Silver Chips was born and is daily reborn. He is currently living and writing from London, England where he is glad for the chance to continue his participation in the organization. More »