Year-round school in the United States
Year-round schooling (YRS) has been present from the 1800s. YRS first appeared in urban areas, because they were not tied to the agriculture cycle. The first towns that implemented YRS were Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Buffalo, and Detroit. These towns had schools sessions for 48 or more weeks at a time. The types of school schedules that were used were the 12-1 (12 weeks in school with 1 week break between the 12 weeks, which was more popular) and 12-4 (4 weeks off in August and school ran continuous after). The first summer school was introduced in 1865 at the First Church of Boston, MA. The reasoning was to keep children occupied. In 1916 there would be 200 elementary schools offering summer school. In 1971, a survey showed that 84% of the surveyed educational authorities predicted that all United States schools would be year-round within 15 years. In 1973, states that provided year-round schooling options were: Washington, Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Vermont, New Kentucky, and Missouri. By 1975, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee adopted YRS for at least one school, however Vermont dropped YRS.
In Favor of Year-Round School
Many businesses dislike year-round calendars, because there is more competition for students trying to get jobs on their vacations since not all students have the same vacation time. Businesses also find it easier to provide jobs on a year round basis instead of having many in the summer for students. Year-round schools also allow for students to graduate at different times, allowing for a decrease in unemployment when compared to all students graduating together and trying to get the few jobs that are open during that time. Businesses also don't have the trouble of having a large volume of employees trying to take off the same vacation time for children getting out of school for summer, since the children would have different vacations. Schools that adopt YRS are also better for industries that have a high volume of people in a short amount of time, because the different vacations allow for students to be open for employment more readily and for vacationers to be more spread out instead of all at once. Some tourist destinations that are very popular in colder months would benefit from this.
Several different studies have been conducted to learn more about the attitudes of students who attend year-round schools. The majority of these studies show that students' attitudes towards school did significantly increase as they spent more time on a year-round schedule. Students who attend year-round school say that calendar is more balanced than their peers who have a typical school calendar.
Effect on Students
Students who attend year-round schools typically do as well as or slightly better in school than their peers who attend a traditionally scheduled school.
At-risk students are those who come from a low-income family, have a disability, are of an ethnic minority, or are influenced by something else that may cause them to perform poorly in school. In 1994, a study of three year-round schools showed a substantial gain in academic achievement for at-risk, low performing students. More frequent, short breaks provide struggling students more time for help. These breaks can be used for remedial courses, tutoring, and enrichment, if needed.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction researched the achievement differences between year-round and traditional-calendar using data from more than 345,000 North public schools. It was found that student achievement in year-round schools was statistically the same as it was in traditional schools. Another study compared the mathematics performance of 44 students in 5th and 6th grades on a year-round track with that of 40 students on a traditional track in the same school, which found no achievement gap.
A study conducted by the Ohio State University found that, over the course of a full year, students showed no significant improvement in reading and math scores in year-round schools compared to those students whose were in schools that followed the traditional academic calendar. Year-round schools do not add more school days to the 180 standard academic calendar. The total number of school days and vacation days remains unchanged, but instead is distributed throughout the year. Thus, students are not gaining more instructional days.
The state of California's Department of Education claims that year-round schools' third-graders had an average increase of 9.5% on standardized tests and 13.3% in reading scores.
Smarter students would have the ability to graduate faster by being enrolled during their vacation times to allow for lessons. Class sizes are reduced, creating better learning environments. Another plus for students is that instead of failing an entire year of school, a student would only fail 45 days on a 45-15 plan, making it so that the student doesn't fall behind as much as a traditional school calendar.
Effect on Teachers and Administration
Studies show that even though around 50% of parents are in favor of the year-round schedule before it is implemented, almost 80% are in favor of it after the first year. Parents and families are able to still arrange daycare as well as vacations. The year round schedule provides more opportunities for family vacations. This schedule can also save families money because they are able to take vacations during off-peak times. Teachers would also be able to increase their income by teaching days of class on their vacations. Some teachers also favor Year-Round School, because they can have flexible contracts, as in different vacation times.
Communities would save on costs since buildings that normally go unused for 2–3 months of the year would be put to use and old buildings would be closed to save costs. Fewer textbooks and equipment would be required, since fewer students would be attending at any point in time. The same idea applies to teachers, being that with fewer students in school fewer teachers are needed for the smaller student population.
Most of the main opposers to year-round schooling come from an agricultural background. This is because the kids would have to attend school in the summer, which is when most of the farm work is done. The families' livelihood depends on some children being able to help out on the farm. This is one of the main reasons most schools do not have year-round classes.
If schools are open for longer, the operating and maintenance costs may increase up to 10 percent. These costs may add up and in turn interfere with budgets for other programs that are already struggling with funding such as the arts, sports and other extra-curricular activities that are state funded.
With today's current economic state, students often have to save up their own money to be able to attend college. This means they often will seek summer or part-time jobs to do so. Year round schooling may create difficulties for teens to be able to maintain part-time or summer job to save up their money.
Effect on Students
There is research that suggests year-round schools have positive effects on students who are at risk for academic problems, including those from underprivileged backgrounds and those who are poor performers in school.
Students with attention learning disabilities may experience difficulties with longer school days. Younger elementary students who are not psychologically fully developed may not see any additional benefit to extended days. This in turn may increase behavioral issues within the classroom.
After school activities may experience conflicts with longer school days. They may also experience budgeting issues with extended schooling sessions into the year.
Another problem that students would face would be being distracted by other students or friends that are on their vacation, which would affect their grades.
Many people argue that students get bored during summer vacations, when there is much less activity and stimulation, so attending school for a year would be a benefit to them. However, many children need a break from school for time to relax and if they have to attend school for an entire year, they will have negative attitudes about learning and their education. Also, many school districts do not have air conditioning, which can make for difficult learning opportunities.
Popular summer destinations such as the Jersey Shore would suffer from YRS. Many families have summer homes in these places, but it would become uneconomical if they couldn't use them for the whole summer. The businesses in these locations would also suffer from a lack of teens needing summer jobs and fewer patrons. These places depend heavily on families who own houses there. While it may extend their season slightly, if students have breaks in September, it would still affect the towns negatively.
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