In my former school we had all semester courses except for the advanced Open Studio (which technically was 2 semester courses and could be registered as such). We had a Foundations in Art course which was the prequisite for ALL art courses. Principles, elements, critique and vocabulary were the main thrust and everyone who left had the same experience to take with them to the other courses. Our courses were:
Foundations in Art (Pre Req)
Foundations in Craft
Ceramics and 3 D Design
Drawing and Painting
Graphic Design I and II
Digital photography I and II
Design Studio (commercial art for the community)
Open Studio (portfolio preparation-advanced studio class)
Puppetry (may be taken over and over again for orginal credit)
AP Art History
Art Appreciation (geared for those students who are not necessarily comfortable with hands on. Intro to a little handson with historical referencing, ie. taking Barbie Dolls and mumifying them in plaster guaze, making a sarcophagus).
We have never gone to full year classes or Art I , II, III, IV, because as a department we strongly felt these two things:
1. If other disciplines offered semester courses we would stick with ours because that meant a "pairing" for students.
2. Art I, II, etc. locks art students into the classes without any wiggle room for them to take anything else. Our courses were very democratic and we felt the more students "tried" an art class, the more they would sign up.And the philosophy worked because we started out 30 years ago with just me, and when I retired last year there were 4 full time art teachers. AND, when I started 30 years ago there were 1300 students, now there are less than 800.
Our philosophy extended to "every kid takes at least one art course to graduate" then it became "the state required every kid to take at least one course to graduate", and now it is "I can't get into Graphic Design II because it is all filled up".