Most students eagerly anticipate summer break, but not all schools schedule a long vacation over the summer months. Some have made the transition to a year-round schedule. However, this doesn't mean students go to school more days, but just eliminates the long summer break in favor of several shorter breaks spread through the entire year. Year-round school school schedules offer both advantages and disadvantages for school districts, teachers, students and their families.
Boosting Academic Achievement
Proponents of year-round school believe that the long summer break causes academic loss because students aren't practicing their skills on a daily basis and that this academic atrophy can be avoided by adopting a year-round schedule. In fact, schools on a year-round schedule do perform slightly better than students in traditional schools, writes retired teacher, Glori Chaika, in a 2010 article for "Educational Leadership." This can be particularly beneficial for low-income students who might not have access to educational activities over summer break, and for low-achieving students who need constant and consistent practice.
Maximizing Educational Opportunities
Keeping the schools open year-round can save school districts money that can be funneled back into the classroom for supplies and curriculum materials. The Oxnard School District in California reported a savings of $20 million and the Marion School District in Florida reported saving $12 million, according to Chaika. Year-round school can reduce teacher burnout, which benefits students because they have access to enthusiastic teachers who work diligently to educate them. Year-round school can also reduce class sizes, because all the students aren't in school at the same time.
Impact on the School Environment
Year-round schooling can interfere with the school environment because the school is never empty for maintenance. For example, some schools aren't cleaned as often because the classrooms are always in use. Teachers who teach in year-round schools don't have their own classrooms because they take turns using them when their track is in session. As a result, teachers wheel supplies and materials around on carts. Schools that aren't air-conditioned can get quite uncomfortable during hot summer months, which impacts concentration and learning. Teachers also have less time to prepare because they don't get the summer to plan.
Many parents find year-round school difficult because they must schedule child care for their children when they aren't in school. This is easier over summer break because many schools and community organizations offer summer camps, but that isn't always the case with year-round school breaks. In the classroom, scheduling academic units is more difficult because many teachers feel that as soon as they get their students interested and immersed in a topic, they go on break, the Scholastic website notes.
- National Education Association: Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education
- Scholastic: The Pros and Cons of Year-Round Schools
- Education World: Is Year-Round Schooling the Answer?
- Educational Leadership: What Research Says About… Year-Round Schooling
- Education News: The Disadvantages of Year-Round Schools
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