Please either Logon or create a New Account.
Semester courses vs. yearlong courses
A PS support rep told me last year that splitting our year-long classes to 2 semester-long classes would: 1. Make scheduling easier and 2. Prevent end-of-year report card issues with dropped courses.

So now I'm looking at splitting all our year-long courses for the 2018-19 school year. If you're at a high school, do you split all your classes into two semester-long courses for scheduling purposes? How does this affect classes like science or math -- i.e., Do your students generally get the same teacher both semesters, or do they randomly get two different teachers for these kinds of classes?

Is there anything I should consider before making this change? The teachers supposedly already teach classes at the same pace so it shouldn't affect them. Just want to make sure I've considered everything before I do this. 


Jane Campbell
Marian High School / Omaha
6 Responses to "Semester courses vs. yearlong courses"

Do you use PowerScheduler and do you let PowerScheduler build your schedule from scratch each year, or does your school manually create a schedule?  This will impact how you proceed.

We just went through the same dilemma with one of our high schools at our district.  Five of our high schools are smaller and have enrollments of under 250 students. They all have yearlong courses and do their scheduling through PowerScheduler.
We are bringing our largest high school with enrolment of  1300+ and in the old system (SMS) they have their yearlong courses split out into semester versions. Initially, we wanted to try to get them on the same course catalog at the other high schools with yearlong courses. After months of back and forth we determined that it would be best for them to keep Semester versions of yearlong courses.

It all depends on how you want to schedule. If you split the courses into semester versions default there is no guarantee that your students would get the same teachers or sections both terms. If you wanted to ensure that students get the same teacher and section in the following term you would need to create sections links or course restraints in PowerScheduler to make sure that happens. This could end up being a lot of work since you would need to link each semester 1 course to the semester 2 course.  

The one thing that made us stick with semester courses for this high school is that we have a requirement that requires any student who has failed a semester of a year long course to retake the semester the following year. Switching to yearlong versions of courses would cause several issues for us. A students that failed a semester of a yearlong course would have to register for full year course the following year just to retake the semester they missed. So any course request report would list the student as retaking a course for a full year, Even though they are just registering for a semester. The student would also take a “full seat” for the year long course even though they are only going to be in the class for a semester. This could potentially skew the number of potential sections needed. 

PowerSchool does have a “split and commit” function that we considered. It might work in your case, even though it did not work for our needs. If you use the Split and Commit and you use the automated walk in scheduler there will be no section link between the sections.  So there is no guarantee that the student would get the matching section on the opposite term if using AWIS.

The Split Year Long Function was designed to give the customers the benefit of building sections of courses as year long courses and then splitting them into semester sections.  This allows more flexibility in student movement between sections at semester end as well as to allow a student to take just one “makeup” semester of a course.

Power Scheduler (before the Commit):
The split is only a Power Scheduler function so it must be done after the last Load and before the Commit.

Do not do it until you are absolutely sure you do not want to build and load again because it doubles the requests for the year long courses.

Each section in a teacher’s schedule becomes 2 sections and each enrollment in the student schedules becomes 2 enrollments. For example, MAT1000.1 year long becomes MAT1000.1 and MAT1000.1001 with semester terms.

The course preference screen does not change because that is no longer used at this point.

Customers often do the “Split” after their last Load but weeks before the Commit so they can use the “Split” sections to do final adjustments to student schedules.

Credit for the course may have to be adjusted.  If they have used this function before then the credit is set at .5 in the Courses Table if a student should receive 1 credit for the completion of the year.  In the Course Catalog in Power Scheduler the credit should be changed back to 1 to reflect the total credit for the year during the request process.Currently there is a “bug” in the Online Course Request Screen though and it is calculating the credits requested based upon the Courses Table and not upon the Power Scheduler ScheduleCourseCatalog Table.

Customers need to be careful not to change the live side credit if classes are still in session and grades have not been stored.

Live Side (after the Commit) AWI Considerations:

On the live side the student would need 2 requests for AWI.

On the live side a check would have to be placed in scheduling preferences to allow same course different terms if using AWI.

On the live side there is no section link between the sections.  So there is no guarantee that the student would get the matching section on the opposite term if using AWI.

Probably more information that what you requested but maybe some of this will help.

We do use PowerScheduler and allow it to create a schedule from scratch each year. But we also do a lot of manual changes before our schedule is ready. As a Catholic school, students have a required year-long theology course each year, in addition to the usual year-long math, science, English courses. So it's always tough getting the electives and semester courses to schedule around the yearlong ones.

Adrian ... thanks for the lengthy explanation about the split and commit function. I didn't know about that function. It might be something we can try.

In Columbus we have always split our yearlong classes.  We schedule them as Year long so students will have the same teacher.  It is to big of a pain to try and link sections.

We do this because we have students that may have only failed one semester.  You do your build/load then when you are ready to commit you split first then look it over to make sure the classes you wanted split work.  Then we do our committ and then the EOY all in the same day so no room for things to happen in between getting things done.


We are at the point where we are ready to split our Year Long classes to Semester long in Power Scheduler.   Our question is when or at what point do you change the credit awarded for the class.   10 per year but 5 per semester.   Do you do this before you split or after?

We adjust the credit for the semester classes once we have committed the schedule to the live side.  It is easier to know when on PowerScheduler it is Yearlong credit when on Live side it is Semester long credit.
Would you like to comment? Join The PowerSchool Community for a free account, or login if you are already a member.