As credit requirements rise, zero-period classes emerge

Hannah Norton, News Editor

Imagine that you’re a current freshman, sophomore, or junior. You are required to complete 31 credits, which means that you can only fail one year-long class. However, you struggle with math, and fail Geometry and Algebra II. This leaves you with one missing credit.

In previous years, students missing credits would take a credit retrieval class after school or attend summer school. Each option has its own difficulties: credit retrieval gives students a credit, not a grade, which can be detrimental if you want to raise your GPA. Summer school is expensive and hard to get to for most students.

Enter zero-periods: hour-long courses that occur before school and give students official grades on their transcript. They are solely elective classes, allowing students who are lacking in core credits to get them during the regular school day.

“In Washington state, the requirement is 24 credits, but our students are taking eight full-year classes each year,” Principal Sean Martin said. “So, the load itself is very high, and without zero-periods, there is limited room for any variance or struggle.”

When creating the first zero-period classes, the administration asked themselves the following questions: is this class something that students would want to take? Is this a class where the teacher would be able to lessen or eliminate the homework load? And finally, is it a class that most students have not already taken?

This fall, economics teacher Wes Benjamin taught a Learn and Earn zero-period. Beginning January 8, English teacher Henry Level will teach a creative writing zero-period, and beginning March 26, math and physical education teacher Randall Imes will be teaching a PE class.

“Teaching the zero-period class has been a bit of a challenge, because some students are struggling to get here so early in the morning,” Benjamin said. “It’s also a challenge in the sense that because we don’t have as much class time, it’s difficult to figure out a new curriculum.”

“We would like to have even more zero-periods, but in the end, it comes down to the financial side of it,” graduation specialist Tod Oney said. “We have to pay teachers extra to teach these classes, so we are limited in how we use our funds.”

Currently, zero-period classes are only open to students with credit deficiencies. However, Martin hopes to allow other students to take them in future years.

“Sometimes students just don’t have the room in their schedules to take all the classes they want,” Martin said. “So, zero-periods will hopefully give those students a chance to take classes like creative writing that they weren’t able to get into.”