Year-round school in the United States
Unlike the much rarer “extended-year” calendar, which can have more than 200 days of instruction, a year-round calendar does not increase instruction time. Instead, a year-round calendar takes the usual 175-180 instruction days and redistributes them, replacing the usual schedule -- nine months on, three months off -- with a more “balanced” schedule of short instruction periods alternating with shorter breaks across all four seasons of the year. There are several year-round calendars in use; the most popular alternate 9 or 12-week instruction periods with 3- or 4-week breaks. Year-round calendars include a summer break that is longer than other breaks during the year, but still shorter than the summer break on a traditional nine-month calendar.
Effect on students, teachers, and families
A 2016 review summarized the research on year-round schools as follows
The effects of year-round calendars on test scores...once thought to be positive...now appear to be neutral at best. Although year-round calendars do increase summer learning, they reduce learning at other times of year, so that the total amount learned over a 12-month period is no greater under a year-round calendar than under a nine-month calendar. [There is also] evidence that year-round calendars make it harder to recruit and retain experienced teachers, make it harder for mothers to work outside the home, and reduce property values.
Businesses that rely on summer leisure time dislike year-round calendars. Summer camps and amusement parks often lead political opposition to year-round calendars, but some opposition is led by upper middle class parents who value summer vacations. Rural areas rarely use year-round calendars because they conflict with farms' need for youth labor in summer.
Year-round calendars can offer a way to reduce school crowding, A crowded school can adopt a multi-track year-round calendar, which staggers student schedules so that different groups of students attend on different calendars, or "tracks," with some students attending while others are on break. In this way the school can handle more students than it could if all students needed to be in school at the same time. Multi-track year-round calendars have been used to reduce crowding in California, greater Las Vegas, and greater Raleigh, North Carolina, among other places."
Compared to other ways to handle crowding -- such as busing or portable classrooms -- multi-track year-round calendars can be relatively inexpensive. However, if schools are open for longer, the operating and maintenance costs may increase up to 10 percent.
- Skinner, Rebecca R. (2014). "Year-Round Schools: In Brief" (PDF). Congressional Research Service.
- von Hippel, Paul T. (2016). "The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss". In Alexander, Karl; Pitcock, Sarh; Boulay, Matthew. The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss. New York City: Teachers College Press.
- Thomas, Isaiah (1973). Administrator's Guide to the Year-Round School. West Nyack: Parker Publishing Company Inc. pp. 1–276. ISBN 0-13-004903-4.
- Graves, Jennifer (2010). "The academic impact of multi-track year-round calendars: A response to school overcrowding". Journal of Urban Economics. 67 (3): 378–391. doi:10.1016/j.jue.2009.11.004.
- Silva, Elena. "On Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time". Retrieved 27 March 2012.