The New Reality of Zero Period


© Steven Georges/Cornerstone Communications

Aliso Niguel High School’s new Physical Science Building. Photo by Steven Georges

As multiple new zero period classes were added in the 2022-2023 school year, these classes were catered towards upperclassmen who would then be able to have free periods at the end of the day and leave early. However, with a new influx of students coming early in the morning for their classes, a new policy was established by the school administration to address what would be expected of these students who were given zero periods. 

Along with the infamous tardy policy that the Aliso Niguel administration put out this year, they have created a much stricter policy for students with zero periods. Students are now only allowed nine tardies or absences before being forcibly removed from their zero period class. 

Mr. Nichols, one of the assistant principals at Aliso Niguel, explains that this policy was previously used at the school and has been reintroduced now with the increase in course offerings.

“Zero period is a privilege to be able to have and to stay in there, we want to ensure that students attend class and participate in their learning” adds Mr. Nichols as to why the school reimplemented this policy. 

Moreover, while many upperclassmen, especially seniors, were promised a zero period this became an issue when a large sum of the classes available in zero period was mostly AP or honors. 

Zero period classes are created based on the number of students who requested to take a zero period and what classes they are enrolled to take. In addition, this must align with the teachers who similarly requested to teach a zero-period class. 

Out of the 18 zero period courses, 9 are honor or AP classes. The other nine classes that are available are P.E. 9, football, newspaper, chamber/orchestra, avid senior seminar, Model UN, geometry, Spanish II, and Avid.

For newspaper, chamber/orchestra, and Avid senior seminar there are prerequisites required to be in the class, not to mention Model UN is not a college prep course meaning not everyone is willing to take it to fulfill their graduation requirements.

 If you were a person who applied for a zero period and only wishes to take a regular course, your options are limited to geometry, Spanish II, Avid, and P.E. 9, if you were a freshman of course. Not to mention if you were an upperclassman in this situation only Avid would be available since geometry and Spanish II are typically taken within freshman and sophomore year.

 Essentially, California schools are regulated based on the number of instructional minutes they have within a school year. Each school must meet a minimum amount of instructional minutes, however, these are only counted if they go on during periods 1-6, not during the zero period. More than 50% of the school population cannot take classes that do not count for instructional minutes. 

However, far less than 49% of the student body is taking zero periods. Meaning the limited availability of college prep classes is a result of not enough enrollment or a lack of teachers who requested to teach a zero period. 

Many students were left disappointed after not receiving a zero period after it had been strongly encouraged. Students enrolled in AP classes were catered to given that there are a plethora of these types of classes available to take during zero period, while regular college prep classes are significantly lacking.