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Year-round education is a popular matter amongst schools in today's world. The concept has been applied by some school districts for years, yet other school districts show uncertainty when it comes to adopting a different school calendar. Having doubt is understandable; most people do not like change in their lives, especially when it comes to something as major as their education. Adopting a year-round schedule does require planning and effort, but it is not pointless. Year-round education is the most effective type of school system to bring the most benefit to all members of a community and provides improved retention rate of material, reduces the number of missed instructional days, decreases both student and teacher burn-out and stress, and provides solutions to any problems that parents may have with the traditional school schedule.
When most people hear the phrase year-round education, their first thought is probably, No more summer vacations. Other people are curious as to what year-round education is. So what exactly is year-round education? Year-round education is not the concept of attending school every week of the year; it is merely a reorganization of the yearly school schedule (Bradish). Year-round school is a good way to maximize student time in school (Cuban 2). It is an approach that gives schools a variety of options to rearrange the 180-day school calendar to better support student learning (Bradish). The most popular form of year-round school is the 45-15 plan. When on this plan, students attend school for nine weeks (45 school days) and then get three weeks (15 school days) off (Our view: Year-round school long overdue). A few other plans are the 60-20 plan and the 90-30 plan (Kelly). Another feature is the track. Single-track year-round school involves all students using the same school schedule and having the same vacations. Multiple-track year-round school has groups of students attending school at different times and having different vacations. Multi-tracking is mainly used by school districts trying to save money (Research Center: Year-Round Schooling).
One thing that year-round education improves is students' retention rate of crucial material. Schools that use the traditional yearly school schedule give students up to three months for their summer vacation. During these months, most students forget a lot of the material that they learned throughout the past year. Having shorter yet more frequent breaks would also allow for teachers to spend less time reviewing content that had been previously taught and more time teaching the students brand-new information (Year Round School | K12 Academics). The year-round schedule gives students less time off between school years. Being in the classroom more often would reduce learning loss from one school year to the next (Kelly).
These frequent breaks, or "intersessions" (Bradish), between instructional days also allow students time to review important material and recuperate. Some schools offer activities or remedial help for students during intersessions. Of course, students are not required to partake in these activities, unless they are in need of extra help with their school work. They can also use this time to spend with their families (Year Round School | K12 Academics).
Breaks are an important part of the school calendar, especially shorter breaks that are evenly spread out. Students are able to retain more information because of the amount of time they spend out of the classroom is reduced by the year-round school schedule (Kelly). In addition, students who desire to take advantage of the additional instructional time during the intersessions would experience even greater retention by receiving extra guided practice time (Bradish).
In addition to improving the retention rates of students, year-round schooling also reduces the amount of missed instructional days for schools all over the country. Because the school days are spread more evenly throughout the year, less instructional days would be lost for certain reasons, one of which being snow days. There would also be a decreased number of student and teacher absences due to there being shorter instructional cycles (Year Round School | K12 Academics).
Multi-tracking is another aspect of year-round education that can be very useful for most schools. Because of the fact that there are multiple different tracks of students, schools are able to accommodate more students (Kelly). This is helpful for schools that are dealing with overcrowding, or too many students being in each class (Year-Round School | K12 Academics). According to the NAYRE (National Association for Year-Round Education), "implementing a four-track system increases the capacity of a school by 33 percent" (Research Center: Year-Round Schooling). In this case, three tracks would always be attending school, while one of the four tracks would always be on vacation. So not only does multi-track schooling reduce class size, but it also allows a school to enroll more students than the building can hold, due to the fact that one track would be on vacation at any given time. In this way, a school district can save money that otherwise would have to be spent on extra equipment, supplies, and the construction of new buildings that would be needed to accommodate the growing population of students (Bradish). There is also the delay for the construction of the buildings to take into account (Year Round School | K12 Academics).
Aside from the solutions to overcrowding and financial problems that it essentially solves, year-round education also helps to get rid of something called burn-out in both students and teachers(Year Round School | K12 Academics). Burn-out happens when students and teachers get worn out from being in school for an extended amount of time. With the traditional school schedule, both students and teachers may get worn out during the school year since their breaks are neither frequent nor consistent. Students attending a year-round school experience less burn-out because of the more frequent breaks and can then return to school feeling fresh and not bogged down with school work. Teachers too may experience less burn-out because they get frequent breaks from teaching in order to relax and recuperate.
Teachers and students are not the only groups of people who experience benefits from year-round school. The parents of the students also benefit from the year-round schedule. One problem that parents have with non-year-round schools is trying to find childcare during the summer months of the year. One "solution" is that parents take off of work to take care of their children (Priddy 2). The better solution is to have their children attend a year-round school. It would have more days where students are attending school. Babysitters would be much easier to find throughout the year than during the summer (Priddy 3).
Some parents also worry that their children are not learning as much as they could be learning in school. When students come back to school after the summer break, teachers must spend a significant amount of time reviewing and teaching the material from the previous year again to the students. Instead, this time could be spent teaching students new subjects or expanding on subjects that the students have already learned. So not only are students not remembering as much when they come back to school, but they are also being deprived of the opportunity to learn new things (Priddy 4). The shorter and more frequent breaks allow teachers to spend less time reviewing and more time teaching students new material (Year Round School | K12 Academics).
Year-round schools are not a complete rarity today. As of 2006, nearly 3,000 of the nation's 90,000 public schools enrolled more than 2.1 million students on a year-round calendar. That is less than five percent of all students who attend public schools. Almost half of these year-round schools are in California. In most of these cases, school boards implemented year-round education because increased enrollments led to overcrowding (Cuban 2).
There are many schools that are considering adopting the year-round schedule. The La Crosse school district in Wisconsin will be trying year-round school at the Hamilton Early Learning Center. The newspaper in which the article was printed, The La Crosse Tribune, also stated the circumstances from which the traditional school schedule came about: "Wisconsin's school year is rooted in the agrarian society that formed our state more than 160 years ago. In the era of one-room schoolhouses, farmers needed their children for work during key parts of the calendar year. That evolved into the summers off calendar that we have today" (Our view: Year-round school long overdue). Public schools in Winona, Minnesota are also thinking about changing to the year-round schedule. The Winona Area Public School Board of Education organized a meeting to discuss whether this option would be chosen (Squires). Several years ago the topic of year-round school was also discussed in Chicago, IL. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago thought the best choice in order to raise student achievement and increase the amount of time which students spent in school was to adopt year-round education (Silva).
Year-round education is an excellent type of schedule for any school to adopt. The numbers of benefits it provides to all those involved-the teachers, the students, and the parents-are tremendously useful, and they are not possible through the traditional school schedule. Year-round education provides improved retention rate of material for students, which also is useful for the teachers. It reduces the number of missed instructional days with its unique setup. It also decreases the amount of burn-out and stress that both teachers and students may experience. Lastly it provides solutions to many problems that parents may have when their children are on the traditional schedule. Year-round education is the most effective type of school system, and it should be implemented in more schools across the country.