pagetop graphic

Master Schedule Guide

Master Schedule Glossary

This is living document. This is a partial glossary of terms related to high school master schedules, bell schedules, and school calendars. We will continue to update and expand this Master Schedule Glossary. Please share your own suggestions of master schedule, bell schedule, and school calendar terminology with Patricia Clark and/or Phil Saroyan from the College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN) at University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Thank You.


4 x 4 block schedule   In the typical 4x4 model, the school day is divided into four blocks of time or four class periods. Typically, each period is approximately 88-90 minutes in length and is the equivalent of a full year course on a traditional 6-period day schedule. Students take up to 4 classes each day or up to eight classes over the course of the school year.  There are variations on the 4 x 4 block, including embedded “skinny” classes that run all year long or during the second term only.

75-15-75-15 schedule  (OR 75-75-25/30 OR 75-30-75 – A form of block schedule where students take three (or more) longer classes each day during two 75-day terms and complete the equivalent of a year of class work in a single term. Each 75-day term is followed by an intensive 15-day remedial or accelerated/advanced course. On the 75-15-75-15 OR 75-75-30 plan, students can take 7 or 8 classes each year.

A/B schedule or alternating day schedule or rotating block schedule - A form of block scheduling where students take eight 90-minute classes, four of which meet every other day.

Absences - Absences are recorded by daily class period. Attendance records, period schedule, homeroom/course-section meeting patterns, and alternate period schedules are considered when deciding the number of periods or minutes a student was absent on a given day. While membership is always counted on days that the student's track meets, regardless of the course-section or homeroom meeting patterns, only period absences that occur on applicable membership days and during applicable periods of the day are counted. Applicable periods are those that the student is expected to attend as established by the Day Length Method.

Academic Planner Module – Access via Module menu. Used in conjunction with Graduation Tracks to create, maintain, and report student plans – a list of courses sequenced by grade level and possibly by term, reflecting the scope and sequence of the curriculum that the student hopes to complete at this school. May be used to generate course requests for scheduling. The Academic Planner Module assists in meeting local and state graduation requirements or entrance requirements or entrance requirements of post high school institutions to which the student may seek admission.

Academic Calendar – Many schools provide year-round or ten-month credit and noncredit courses in a variety of learning formats. The District’s/school’s academic calendar indicates important dates related to the academic year and is typically available on the District/school website.

Academic Year – The period of formal instruction, usually August through May OR September through June.  Typically, , an academic year is made up of two semesters – - August – December AND January – May, etc. However, some academic years involve trimesters, or 75-75-30, etc.

Alternative scheduling – Scheduling courses in non-traditional ways – minutes, days – to meet different learning styles of students and needs of the high school.

A/B schedule – Four classes meeting every other day for the full school year, “A” courses on one day; “B” courses on the second day

Balancing – The adjustment of student enrollment in sections of the same course in order to achieve class sections of similar size.

Blocked classes – Those classes that are arranged one period after another during the day, not to be confused with "block scheduling"

Block Class (another definition) – Some high schools and colleges offer a mid-year, end of year, or summer block course that allows students and faculty to deeply explore a topic in a way that is not possible in the regular academic year. Typically, students concentrate on a single course for three – four weeks and earn a full unit of credit.

Block scheduling – Longer than traditional 45-60 minute periods, arranged in any of a variety of ways in the daily/weekly schedule  (4x4, A/B or “alternating-day” block schedule; trimester, 75-15-75-15, Copernican)     “At least part of the daily schedule is organized into larger blocks of time (more than 60 minutes) to allow flexibility for a diversity of instructional activities.” – Cawelli (1994)

Carnegie unit – Developed via the Carnegie Foundation in the early twentieth century as a measure of the amount of time a student must study a subject to obtain credit toward high school graduation and eligibility for university entrance
“A measure of classroom attendance at the secondary school level. One unit represents one  hour per day each academic year, or between 180 and 190 hours of classroom contact (United States Education Reference File, 1999)

Cohort scheduling – Clustering students into smaller units within the high school, so that they move from one class to another within their pathway or learning community as a group.

Concurrent Sections/Concurrent courses - Courses that may need to be scheduled in order to combine classes in the same classroom in the same period. Reasons for concurrent scheduling may include combining two different, but related courses in the same classroom. For example, a section of Mandarin III might be combined with a section of Mandarin IV.. Sometimes, an academic course might serve students from two closely related pathways/academies. For example, a section of English II might combine 20 “overflow” students from the Biotechnology pathway with 12 “overflow” students from the Engineering pathway;. The other English II Biotechnology and English II Engineering courses were full or were scheduled at times that presented a schedule conflict to the students involved. Typically, in concurrent classes, two different student rosters are maintained

Conflict Matrix  - The Conflict Matrix is one of the reports generated by the Student Information System “Schedule Builder” software; it is regularly used in Building the master schedule. The Conflict Matrix analyzes student course requests and for every single course requested shows the total number of student requests and also shows how many of the same students requested every other given course.  The higher the number of common requests for two particular courses, the more important it is that the two courses be offered during different periods to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Conflicting Requests Report - The Conflicting Requests Report is used to drill down from the Conflict Matrix Report. The Conflicting Requests Report shows exactly which students requested a particular pair of courses.

Copernican theory – Developed by John Carroll; posits that schools should focus on different ways to use time (as Copernicus helped us look at the solar system differently)

Copernican schedule – A form of a block schedule in which students typically have longer classes for core academic courses during one half of the school day and shorter daily periods for elective courses such as physical education or arts/music during the other half of the day.

Course Code – A unique alphanumeric code, such as CHEM101 or 1342, identifies a particular course record.  Typically, the course code is limited to six characters.

Course Instances – When you are building the master schedule, the Course Instances Report will help you identify which sections have been placed into the master schedule (i.e., courses that have a teacher and a period or specific block of time assigned, and which courses have not.)

Credit recovery – A system that allows students to make up failed courses, or parts of them, during the school year, to avoid falling behind in meeting graduation requirements

Course Requests – The total number of primary course requests for a particular course.

Course Requests by grade level - The number of requests for a particular course broken down by grade level.

Double dosing – Enrolling students in two classes each semester in subjects such as English and Math to help them “catch up” or advance their learning in those subjects. Sometimes double dosing is used during second semester so students can make up a D or F grade from first semester and also successfully complete the second semester of a core academic course. Sometimes, too, students might double dose in a subject such as foreign language/language other than English and complete two years of that subject in a single year.

Draft versus Live Schedule – Draft Schedules (or Sim Runs) are practice or preparation schedules. Drafts (or Sims) do not impact real student schedules until one is “published” from the Draft Schedule main page. Typically, a team creates multiple drafts. Once a draft schedule is published, it becomes the “live” or “real” schedule for the site.

Extended Year Calendars – Extended Year calendars add days in order to lengthen the school year from 180 days annually up to 245 days of instruction.

Flexible schedule – Combinations of various schedules with a class length varying from day to day

Four by four (4x4) block schedule – Four courses taught per day each semester, each earning a full year's credit

FTE (Full Time Equivalent)  - FTE is a unit that indicates the workload of an employed person (or student) in a way that makes workloads comparable across various contexts. FTE is often used to measure a worker's involvement in a project, or to track cost reductions in an organization. An FTE of 1.0 means that the person is equivalent to a full-time worker, while an FTE of 0.5 signals that the worker is only half-time

  • FTE is a ratio of a student's membership to a full-time student's course-section membership. FTE is usually expressed as a decimal fraction ranging from 0.0 to 1.0. Some state education agencies require that schools multiply part-time student membership and attendance by the FTE before computing average daily attendance and average daily membership.

Global classes – Those open to students from all SLCs/ academies, such as physical education, foreign language, fine arts, and upper division advanced courses

Intersessions or Expanded learning opportunities or Supplementary sessions - Blocks of time or periods/sessions of a week or more distributed throughout the school year. They can be used as vacation, but more typically are utilized for opportunities to learn that involve both remediation or enrichment.

Late start/ early release – When students either arrive later than teachers in the morning or are released earlier in the afternoon, providing time for teacher planning and collaboration

Linked classes – Those courses in a given pathway/academy/SLC, taught by a team of teachers, which students move to as a group

  • Links can also be established between other courses.  For example, links can be established between a homeroom class and non-homeroom classes (e.g., PE, music, etc.). Once established, links ensure that when a student is added to a homeroom, he or she is also added to the other classes to which the homeroom is linked.

Marking Period – A marking period or grading period is a set period of time in a course at the end of which a grade is given and shared with students and parents. A grading period is typically set by school board policy and, typically, may involve a six-week period, nine-week period, twelve-week period or a semester.

Mass Student Scheduler – Typically, this is the tool that places students in sections/classes based on their requests for courses.  (In most master schedule software programs, it is also possible to have previously tagged pathway students and pathway courses for specific Houses/Pathways/Academies prior to using this tool.)

Master Schedule Builder or Master Scheduler – Software that allows a computer to develop a schedule once the required data has been entered. This is the tool that creates sections/ classes. Typically this involves using the information from the Course Tallies and the Scheduling Board.

Master Schedule Conflicts or Master Scheduler Conflicts – The Master Scheduler Conflicts report shows conflicting information for sections that have already been placed in the master schedule (as opposed to the Conflict Matrix, which shows potential conflicts without taking the actual master schedule “scenario” into account).

Master Schedule Notebook - A master schedule notebook is a notebook, journal, or log that documents the master schedule process and also serves as a repository for ideas, notes, data, work session summaries, observations, research findings, and other information relevant to the planning, development, and refinement of the master schedule. It is an important record of the work of the master schedule team. Typically, the Master Schedule Notebook documents, in chronological order, all of the work associated with the master schedule design, construction, implementation, and assessment. Typically, it is organized by stages in the master schedule process, but might also include other information or ideas that are not aligned with a single stage.

Master Schedule Timeline – Typically, both the District and the school/s develop Master Schedule Timelines.  Typically, this timeline is created and disseminated by the first or second month of the academic school year. The Master Schedule Timeline includes all activities related to the planning, development, analysis, adjustment, and evaluation of the master schedule for the following school year. In addition to including all scheduling process activities, the timeline assigns responsibility for each activity and includes dates of completion for each activity. Some timelines also include measures of success that are tied to goals and objectives for the master scheduling process.

Modular scheduling – Establishing different minutes and meeting times for courses, following the college model

Multi-track Year-Round Education – is a form of school calendar that is typically used to alleviate over-crowding and to address a shortage of classrooms. Typically, multi-track calendars divide students and teachers into “tracks” or groups of approximately the same number of students and teachers. For example, a school with the capacity of 1500 students could accommodate 2,000 students by assuring that only three tracks of 500 students (per track) would be scheduled in school at the exact same time AND that on a strategically planned, rotating basis that at least one track would be on vacation or intersession every day during the school year.

Occurrence – An occurrence/s is the time in minutes or hour/s a timeblock actually occurs. Typically, all timeblocks – with the exception of the district timeblock – need occurrences created for them either in preparation for the year end “rollover” to the “new,” upcoming school year or completed later in the process. NOTE: Typically the create/edit occurrence icon resembles a calendar with a clock. NOTE: Master schedule teams interviewed recommended performing this step when you were adding/editing sessions, terms, and timeblocks.

Platoon – A cohort of students kept together as a group in several classes

Quarter system – Dividing the school year into four parts, each 9 weeks in length or a quarter of a 36-week school year. A student typically takes four quarters of a course to complete a full year course credit. Semesters are often divided into two quarters.

Rotating Schedule – One common definition is a type of academic scheduling in which students meet for six of their eight classes on any one day. Each day, one class of the eight is “dropped” in the first rotation (between 7:45 a.m. and 10:40 a.m.) and another is “dropped” in the second rotation (between 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.). The rotation takes 4 days to complete with the process repeating the 5th day.   However, rotating schedule can also refer to A/B or A/B/C day rotations.

Section – One classroom of students.  Some courses have many sections, some just one. A section is a distinct and different set of students at a different time/hour of the day.

Section Roster - A section roster is a list of students who have been assigned to the course-section for the current academic year. It may include students who have been withdrawn from the course-section. Changes made to the roster are reflected in the applicable student schedules.

Segment – A “duplicate” or continuation of an existing course just in a different time slot. Segments include the same teacher, same students, and same other course details since it is simply a duplicate of the initial course offering.

Singleton – A course that has just one section of students. A grade level singleton (senior singleton, junior singleton, etc.) is a course that has just one section in which all or most students are from a particular grade level.

Single-Track Schedule - All students and school personnel follow the same instructional and vacation schedule. In schools on year-round schedules, the single-track schedule may also include “intersessions” which support time for remediation and enrichment throughout the school year.

Skinny – A course that meets in a shorter period each day for a full year in the 4 x 4 or A/B block schedule

Staff ID – An employee identification number is a number assigned to a school staff member at the time when he/she is first employed by a District or other educational institution. The employee identification number is used on time sheets and official documents, but is also used when loading faculty information during the master schedule development process.

Student ID – A student identification number is a number assigned to a student when he/she first enters or registers with an educational institution. The student identification number is used to identify the student in lieu of a name for grades, some exams and assessments, and official documents. The student identification number is also used when loading student course requests during the master schedule development process.

Student Schedule - A student schedule is a course list of sections to which the student has been assigned to for the current academic year.

Teaming–Bringing teachers together to work jointly with a subset of students

Term - A term is a component of an academic year. A term has a title and a code (e.g., Semester1, SEM1), and has a starting date and an ending date, both of which must be school days. A term is comprised of one or more Term Segments. A particular course-section can meet during any single term or any combination of terms.

Term Classes – At the college level, a term class is typically a course that runs for half of a semester.  At the high school level, the word term is sometimes used as a synonym for “semester’ or used to describe a segment of the academic year – i.e., quarter term, trimester term, etc.

Term Segments - Access via Setup menu, Timetable, Calendar, Term Segment view. The number of segments required for scheduling is determined by dividing the school year by the shortest course. Two segments are required to schedule semester courses; three segments are required to schedule trimester courses; twelve segments are required to schedule three-week courses; etc.

Tiered Intervention: Tiered intervention describes the types of tiered supports observed during site visits. When we began this work, we purposely avoided the term “RTI” with schools to obtain as large a sample as possible of schools (which) were implementing components of RTI but (which) may not self-identify themselves as implementing the framework as a whole.

Traveling – Required movement from one classroom to another for a teacher who lacks her/his own classroom.

Trimester – Dividing the school year into three parts, usually each 12 weeks in length. Typically, four or five courses are offered each trimester. Typically, each course is offered for 75 or more minutes each day. Typically, two trimesters of a course is the equivalent of a full year course credit and students can earn up to seven and a half course credits per year.