Year Round School Debate
As with other changes from “the good old days,” the idea of year round school scheduling has its share of proponents and opponents. To find out what makes some eager for year round school and others reject the idea, keep reading.
Pros of Year Round School
There are some very strong reason for introducing a year round school schedule.
• Overcome Overcrowding When a school or district is experiencing overcrowding, a multi-track year round school schedule can provide a solution that doesn’t require investing in new buildings or temporary structures. According to the California Department of Education, three tracks could see a 50% increase; four tracks, a 33% increase, and five tracks, a 25% increase.
• Avoid Costly Investments When considering a capital outlay and hiring staff for a new facility, along with all the other costs of furnishing, maintenance, etc., a change in the school calendar may be very appealing and cost-effective.
• Continuity of Instruction By eliminating the long summer break, the long gap in learning that children experience in the system that has become the norm is eradicated and the demonstrated loss of learning that can occur over the summer is eliminated.
• Improved Student Achievement The continuity of instruction has been touted as a way to increase student learning, and therefore standardized test scores. This may be particularly helpful for students with learning disabilities.
• Intercessions and Extension The intercession periods created by a single-track year round school schedule are felt to be valuable for remediation and enrichment, rather than these opportunities coming once a year during summer school.
• Class Size Multi-track year round schooling can have an impact on reducing class size.
• Reduced Stress The regular breaks offered in the year round school calendar help relieve stress with the more frequent breaks.
• Reduced Vandalism With more regular use of the school buildings, the opportunities for vandalism are reduced.
• Flexible Kindergarten Entrance Year round school scheduling can make it possible for more flexibility in when kindergartners begin school, so that the timing can be better matched to individual development.
Cons of Year Round School
The introduction of year round school scheduling can cause some serious issues for student families, faculty, and others outside the school.
• Family Activities With multiple children in the system, a family may find that they do not have shared time for vacations and cannot even make the same plans for before- or after-school care or day care for their children because of different schedules.
• Scheduling Conflicts For teachers who coach athletics or sponsor extracurricular clubs and activities that do not stop when they are on vacation, scheduling conflicts arise.
• Professional Development Getting all teachers in one place at one time for professional development can become an issue.
• Community Programs Parks and Recreation Programs, athletic facilities, and other instructional facilities that have historically served students on their school breaks face a major
• Summer Employment Although it might effect a small number of students, there are a number of upcoming juniors and seniors who do work during the summer as part of their preparation and saving for college.
• Other Summer Experiences Intensive summer experiences in which students from across the country or even internationally come together for specialized training or activities that range from athletics to academic subjects to experiences on college campuses would be impossible with the year round school schedule. Owners of summer camps and vacation spots, as well as other warm weather activity centers will also suffer if their clientele experiences a sharp drop.
• Maintenance Timing With extended use of the school buildings, the opportunities for maintenance are reduced.
• Increased Cost for Scheduling A scheduling system must be in place for designing everyone’s schedules - students and faculty - and this is another cost.
• New Operational Costs Schools that were not designed for summer classes may not be able to comfortably accommodate people without installation of air conditioning.
• Academic Benefits Are Questionable While some school districts and schools have had some success with year round school schedules, others have found that there was no academic performance improvement. A 2007 study by a sociologist, Paul von Hippel, from Ohio State University, found that students in schools with year round school schedules don’t learn more in a year in math or reading than schools in traditional nine-month calendar settings.
• A Large Number of Schools Go Back The numbers vary depending on who’s reporting, but a notable number of schools have returned to traditional scheduling, which has had its own costs.
American Library Association: “Impact of Year-Round Schools” - ala.org
The Research: Year Round Education by Nancy Everhart - ala.org
National Association for Year-Round Education - nayre.org
The New York Times: “State Leaders on Education Back Year-Round Schooling” Dec. 20, 1997 - nytimes.com
California Department of Education: Year-Round Education Program Guide - cde.ca.gov
PBS: “Going to school year-round” - pbs.org
Ohio State University. "Year-round Schools Don't Boost Learning, Study Finds." ScienceDaily 14 August 2007. 18 November 2008 - sciencedaily.com