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Trimester FAQS

New state and district graduation requirements mean an increase of 4 credits for district high school students, and a change to a trimester system

October 6, 2017—High school students across the state will soon have to acquire 24 credits to graduate from high school, based on a law passed by the state Legislature. In the Renton School District, our School Board policy requires the graduating class of 2021 (this year’s 9th-graders) to acquire 26 credits to graduate—up from the current 22 credits currently needed.  (If you graduate before 2021, check here for graduation requirements that apply to you.)

The additional credits also means the district will need to change how the high school day is configured to allow enough time and classes for students to acquire the needed credits.

Change to trimester system

In 2018-2019 school year, high schools in the Renton School District will change to a trimester system from the current semester system. A trimester system divides the academic school year into three terms, each of which typically encompasses 12 weeks. The trimester system differs from the current semester system which consists of two terms of about 18 weeks. The trimester system creates a schedule that provides the flexibility to meet the individualized needs of each student, allowing enrollment in core classes and relevant elective courses. It allows students who are on track to graduate the opportunity to explore more subject areas while giving students who are behind in credits the chance to catch up and graduate on time.

Students will take 5 classes for each of 3 trimesters (72 minute classes meeting for approx. 12 weeks in length), rather than 6 classes for each of 2 semesters (57 minute classes meeting for approx. 18 weeks in length). The advantages of a trimester system include:

  • students have increased elective opportunities;
  • students have fewer classes to prepare for on a daily basis;
  • students have the flexibility to develop a more personalized pathway that meets their needs for the future; and
  • students will be able to meet the increased graduation requirements.

How we got to a trimester high school system

A committee of teachers, parents, counselors, and school and district administrators formed in 2015 to develop a plan to ensure that all high schools provide students with access to the learning opportunities they need to graduate and be successful in college and career, including:

  • Expanded opportunities for rigorous coursework in all schools, so that all students are well prepared, no matter which high school they attend in the Renton School District.
  • Opportunities for students to earn enough credits to meet the new graduation requirements.
  • School schedule changes necessary to give students the opportunity to earn more credits.

After months of research and thorough discussion, the committee now has transitioned to review a trimester system in high schools to ensure students have the necessary time, core subjects and electives, and classroom schedules to earn 24 credits or more to graduation.

In November, 2016, the steering committee recommended that the trimester schedule start in the fall of the 2018-2019 school year.

Implementation target for 2018-19 school year:

  • Steering committee continues work through Nov. 2017 (or beyond as needed)
  • Determinations regarding core and elective classes
  • Course catalog information complete
  • Implementation processes and procedures in place
  • Content sub-committees continue as necessary
  • All recommendations regarding core and elective classes for implementation are made
Graduation Requirements
Subject Class of 2021 and Beyond-Standard Class of 2021 and beyond Personalized Pathway*
English/Language Arts 4 4
Mathematics 3 3
Science (including 1 lab) 3 3
Social Studies 3 3
Health and Fitness 2 2
Arts 2 1
World Language 2 0
Personalized Pathway*  0 3
Career and Tech Edu. 1 1
Electives 4 4
Additional elective 2 2
Total Credits 26 26

*Personalized Pathway Requirements: Three credits of coursework that lead to a specific post-high school career outcome chosen by the student, based on the student's interest and High School and Beyond Plan.