Semester F.A.Q.

Student Information on Semestering

The Semester System
A semester timetable divides the school year into two halves, completing half of the year’s courses at the end of January, and the second half of the courses in June.

W-O Moves to a Semester Timetable in September 2017
We are excited about the change to a semester model as it will provide many opportunities for our students:
• More flexible pathways for students with regard to the 34 credit threshold
• More manageable student workload, as only 4 courses per semester
• Increased options for students who join or leave mid-year
• Greater flexibility with timetable planning
• Compatible with e-learning and other WRBSB program

Evaluation and Reporting
There are two provincial report cards per semester. The first report is in mid-November, with a final report for the first semester classes in early February. The first report for second semester is in mid-April, with a final report for second semester classes issued at the end of June.

Full disclosure refers to dates that courses and marks appear on student transcripts and applies to non-semester and semester settings. For both semesters, full-disclosure is 5 days after the first report card. After this full disclosure date, all Grade 11 and 12 courses taken or attempted by students, will be recorded on the Ontario Student Transcript. If a course is dropped before this date, it does not appear on a student’s transcript.
When students apply to college and universities, their marks are uploaded by a certain date to determine offers of admission. For colleges and universities, the OCAS (college) and OUAC (university) mark uploads do not change in a semester schedule, but the February marks submitted will represent your final grades in your Grade 12 courses taken Semester 1.

W-O’s NEW Timetable for September 2017
Timetable

 

 


WODSS Changes to Semester Timetable for September 2017

October 24th, 2016

I am excited to announce to our WODSS parent and student community that we are changing to a Semester schedule in September 2017. Following many years of consideration and consultation with staff, School Council, and WRDSB Senior Administration I have decided to move the schedule of the school to a semester format. I am confident that this schedule will provide new opportunities for our 21st century students to help them meet their educational goals, and that our school will continue to thrive, evolve and work towards W-O Excellence in this new format.
All of the secondary schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board, and the majority in the province of Ontario as a whole, have moved towards a semester model. In a non-semester schedule, students typically work on 8 credits for a full school year, whereas in a semester model, students work on 4 credits for the first half of the school year, complete those credits, and then begin a second series of 4 credits for the second half of the school year.
We are taking time this school year to ensure an effective implementation plan. In the months ahead, we will communicate important information on:
1. How the semester timetable works.
2. How we can work together to ensure individual students’ needs are met.
3. How you and your student can plan for a post-secondary goal or pathway in a semester school.
The forms of communication we will use are as follows:
• Semester Information Night – an information night will be held in January for parents on course selection and pathway planning.
• Website Information – short information items on the Semester system, and answers to FAQ’s.
• Information Materials – these will be distributed as needed to WODSS students in their first period class.
• Use of the WODSS school ‘phoner’ – automated calls will update WODSS households of our Semester Information Night, and notify when important print materials have been distributed.
• School Council – the parent members of the WODSS school council will receive updates on our implementation progress.
We are excited about the change to semestering and the opportunities it will offer our students.
Beth Bodkin
Principal


Moving to Semesters FAQ #1 (posted on October 28th, 2016)

This is the first in a series of answers to frequently asked questions about our move to being a semestered school for September 2017.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SEMESTERS – Issue 1, October 28, 2016

1. How does the timetable work?
A typical semester schedule divides the year into two halves; Sept to the end of January, and February to the end of June. Students take half of their 8, 7, or 6 credits each semester. Grade 12 students in their 5th year may choose one semester only and finish in January, or stay for their full year with 4, 5, or even 6 credits as long as they are in compliance with the 34 credit cap required by the Ministry of Education. Both semesters have a 5 day exam schedule at the end. A final decision on the schedule we will use will be made and posted on our website in the next month.

The periods are usually 75 minutes in length and often a Day 1, Day 2 schedule will ‘flip’ the last two periods so that student athletes are not always missing the same subject. In addition, the lunch period is 60 minutes.

2. When are report cards issued in a semester system? What about full disclosure?
There are two provincial report cards per semester. The first report is in mid-November, with a final report for the first semester classes in early February. The first report for second semester is in mid-April, with a final report for second semester classes issued at the end of June.

Full disclosure applies to non-semester and semester setting. For both semesters, full-disclosure is 5 days after the first report card. After this full disclosure date, under the terms of the “full disclosure” policy, all Grade 11 and 12 courses taken or dropped by students, including students who are identified as exceptional pupils, will be recorded on the Ontario Student Transcript, and with the percentage grades earned and the credits gained.

3. What are my options for a 4 or 5 year graduation plan?
One of the key factors in our decision to move to a semester system was flexibility for student regarding their graduation plan. The Ministry of Education has established a 34 credit cap that students must keep in mind. Families must plan for whether their student will remain for a 5th year. We continue to advocate that students consider a full or partial 5th year in order to allow time to focus on their University or College credits, gain academic maturity, and experience the many program options available in the Grade 12 program.

In a semester setting, or a non-semester setting, most students will chose to complete their 30 credit requirements for graduation in their 4th year. The additional courses they would then chose to take could be completed in one, or two semesters. Some students will want a ‘Semester 1 Only’ schedule so that they can upgrade or take additional courses and then work, travel or prepare for post-secondary programs the second half of the year. In order to be eligible to play sports, students must take a minimum of two credits in the semester(s) that they wish to be on teams, (provided they have a minimum of 22 credits). Other students may want to take 4 or 5 credits over the full year, with courses scheduled for both semesters in order to spread out their studies, or stay involved in sports or activities over the full year. Individual students will work with their Guidance counsellor if staying for a 5th year to determine; which year they want to attend Commencement, ensure their 34 credit count is taken care of, and determine a full year or Semester 1 only schedule.

4. With the subjects repeated every day, will there be too much homework?
Reasonable timelines still have to be established by the classroom teacher and homework assignments need to have a basis of quality work to improve student learning. Your son or daughter should experience similar homework expectations to our current practices.

5. Is it possible to have a two semester ‘gap’ on a core subject such as Math, English or Science?
An example of this scenario might be; Math semester 1 in Grade 9, and then a gap where Math is scheduled in semester 2 in the student’s Grade 10 year. Thus, the student could have a Feb to Feb ‘gap’ without Math. Yes, this can occur, but the curriculum spirals (repeats key learnings over each year) for this reason and is due to the challenges of retaining key information in a student’s long term memory each year. Thus, teachers plan for and allow for re-learning to occur in semester schedules. It may also be noteworthy that in terms of memory studies, students forget the material over the summer break in a similar manner to forgetting the material in a two semester break. The key is for any important learning to be transferred into long term memory, where it can be retrieved or referenced with ease regardless of how long ago the learning occurred. In terms of the potential for a gap in learning from a semester schedule some exceptional students, with an IEP or IPRC, will be hand timetabled to ensure this does not occur, or that their GLE or Resource support period is in the same semester as their greatest academic challenges.

Please visit the website again for another FAQ, or email your specific question to me at beth_bodkin@wrdsb.on.ca or my Vice Principal at carolyn_salonen@wrdsb.on.ca

Sincerely,
Beth Bodkin
Principal
Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School


Semester Schedule for 2017-18

Waterloo-Oxford Administration and the Semester Implementation Team have proposed the following timetable for our first year as a semester school in 2017-18. The key features of the timetable are: 75 minute periods, a 2 day cycle and a 60 minute common lunch. The C and D afternoon periods ‘flip’ on Day Two so that student athletes don’t always miss the same period. Day One is on odd days of the month. Day Two is on even days of the month. Please stay tuned to updates on our website for more details and FAQ’s regarding our change to a semester schedule.Timetable

 


Moving to Semesters FAQ #2 (posted on December 12th, 2016)

  1. How will my Special Education supports work in semester timetable?

The Semester Implementation Team has approved the following Special Education plan as the most effective in a semester timetable. In the points below describing the model, a GLE is a credit bearing course that teaches students various learning strategies and is available for every grade level, and a Resource period is a non-credit bearing course that supports students in their other credit courses.

  • Special Education students will have the option of one GLE courses per grade, up to a maximum of four GLE credits. Instruction will be tailored to their age group and the organization supports needed to be successful in their other courses.
  • Resource periods will also be offered in each semester to support student in their other courses.
  • Special Education students would be offered a GLE course in one semester, and a Resource period in the other semester.
  • Most Special Education students would be offered a GLE course in one semester, to coincide with the courses where they have the greatest need. For example; a GLE course would be placed in the semester they have Math, if the student’s IEP and/or IPRC indicates some processing difficulties and accommodations in Math.
  • If a student with an IEP is in a semester without GLE or Resource course support, they are still entitled to the accommodations on their IEP, and they will have full access to the Special Education supports documented on their IEP. For example, a student may not have a scheduled GLE class and will still come to the resource room to write tests for extra time, scribing, or any other accommodations they require.
  1. Will a semester schedule mean less class time in my courses for next year as compared to this year?

The Ministry of Education requires that instructional minutes in both semesters and a full year school are the same, a minimum of 110 hours of instruction per course, and that there are a minimum of 330 minutes in a school day (from opening to closing bell). Therefore, the total time spent in class is the same in a semester system.

Please visit the website again for another FAQ, or email your specific question to me at beth_bodkin@wrdsb.on.ca or my Vice Principal at carolyn_salonen@wrdsb.on.ca

Sincerely,
Beth Bodkin
Principal
Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School


Moving to Semesters FAQ #3 (posted February 22, 2017)

1. How many credits are required for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma?
Students require 30 credits to graduate from high school: 18 compulsory credits and 12 elective credits.

2. What is the maximum number of credits a student can take at high school?
Students can take up to 34 credits. If a student has an IEP (individual education plan) they may take more than 34 credits.

3. Is there a fee for returning for a 5th year or for an additional semester?
There are no fees for students who wish to return for a 5th year or for an additional semester. Students can choose to return for 1 semester only or for 2 semesters, as long as they have not taken over 34 credits.

4. Can I still attend school trips that run in Semester Two? What about missing school?
Students who are taking a course in semester one, and a course-related trip is offered in semester two, are eligible to participate and go on the trip, as long as they are registered/attending in semester two. Teachers will inform students in both semesters about the trip opportunity. When possible, faculty will do their best to schedule trips so that students miss fewer days of classes.

5. When will I get my timetable for 2017– 2018?
As in past years, students will receive their timetables on the first day of school in September. Any students with conflicts will be contacted by their Guidance Counsellor in June.

6. How does Co-op work?
In a semester system, students can choose either a 2 credit or 4 credit option for co-op. A 2 credit co-op allows students to work either 4 mornings or 4 afternoons/week, as well as take other courses for that semester. A 4 credit co-op will allow students to work 4 full days/week for the semester. Both options require the student to complete an in-school component of the co-op course prior to their placement, and attend in-school classes once/week for the remainder of the semester.

7. Vacations/Holidays
Remember when planning family vacations/holidays, students must be present to write exams at the end of January and June. It is important to note that course content moves very quickly in a semester system, so missing a week can have a large impact on student learning. It is strongly recommended that students avoid family vacations in January and June due to exam review and final summative evaluations.

8. What if my course for university or college is not offered until Semester Two?
If a student has not yet taken a required course for their university or college program because it is in Semester 2, offers may be made based on the credits and marks completed to date, and semester 2 mid–term marks (April). This varies depending on the university/college and the program. W-O will follow the same process used by all semestered schools in the province.

9. When are my marks sent to college and university?
When students apply to college and universities, their marks are uploaded by a certain date to determine offers of admission. For colleges and universities, the OCAS (college) and OUAC (university) mark uploads do not change in a semester schedule, but the February marks submitted will represent your final grades in your Grade 12 courses taken Semester one.

Evaluation and Reporting

There are two provincial report cards per semester. The first report is in mid-November, with a final report for the first semester classes in early February. The first report for second semester is in mid-April, with a final report for second semester classes issued at the end of June.

Full disclosure refers to dates that Grade 11 and 12 courses and marks appear on student transcripts and applies to non-semester and semester settings. For both semesters, full-disclosure is 5 days after the first report card is issued. After this full disclosure date, all Grade 11 and 12 courses/marks taken or attempted by students, will be recorded on the Ontario Student Transcript. If a course is dropped before this date, it does not appear on a student’s transcript.

Please visit the website for other FAQs, or email your specific question to me at beth_bodkin@wrdsb.on.ca or my Vice Principal at carolyn_salonen@wrdsb.on.ca

Sincerely,
Beth Bodkin
Principal
Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School