Summer vacation can be a much-anticipated and much-needed respite from the demands of a rigorous school year, both for teachers and students. There is a growing trend in the United States, though, of students attending year-round school. What becomes of summer vacation then? What effects does this have on students?
Before diving into the pros and cons of year-round school, here are a few facts to help you understand more of what year-round schooling looks like.
Facts About Year-Round School:
- 10 percent of public school students attend year-round schools.
- There are over 3,000 year-round schools in the United States in 46 states.
- Schedules are typically:
- 45 Days On, 15 Days Off
- 60 Days On, 20 Days Off
- 90 Days On, 30 Days Off
- Students still attend school a total of 180 days per year.
The predominant traditional school schedule with summers off was originally established to allow children to help their families with crops and farming, as well as accommodate for facility limitations in controlling the temperature of the school buildings in hot summer months. These really are no longer issues, though, as America is not as dependent on an agrarian calendar and most of our buildings are now climate controlled.
As with most issues relating to a child’s best interest, there are proponents on both sides of the year-round school discussion. This is a potentially divisive issue in communities, and school boards must consider all sides and all ramifications before implementing year-round education in their districts.
Benefits of Year-Round School:
Perhaps the most publicly cited reason in favor of year-round schools is reducing the impacts of summer learning loss. Studies show that students experience dramatic learning loss in all academic areas over the course of summer break, some losing up to two months of math skills. Without that break, it is thought that this loss in learning can be eliminated and academic performance actually improved upon through remedial and enrichment classes.
For those communities where overcrowding in schools is an issue, year-round education running on a multi-track plan helps to maximize the number of students attending in the same building. By operating on varied schedules for students, they are able to facilitate more students without having to fund new schools being built.
Having more frequent extended breaks may help to reduce teacher and student burnout. Instead of a marathon approach with a long recovery after, year-round schooling is more like a race with frequent water breaks. For those students who get overwhelmed and stressed as the year progresses, they may benefit from having more frequent breaks to recover mentally and physically from the demands of school. In fact, the dropout rate for year-round school is two percent, compared with five percent for traditional school schedules.
Cautions of Year-Round School:
From a fiscal perspective, year-round school increases expenses for facility maintenance, student transportation, employee benefits such as paid vacations, and overall administrative costs. This could strain already over-extended budgets and take away from other beneficial programs and activities.
If year-round school is not implemented district-wide, multiple issues arise. If siblings are not on the same school schedule, then issues like day care and vacationing become problematic. After-school activities and sports have to be coordinated within the varied scheduling, oftentimes making those difficult to implement.
There is also the very real concern over summer jobs. Many high school students rely on summer jobs to fund their own activities, their family needs, or their college education. If these students do not have the summer break to work and save, then they will be forced to work part-time in the evenings during the year, risking academic and social consequences.
Is year-round school better for your kids? The question is best answered on an individual basis, and each family and student is unique in their learning requirements and needs. Studies continue to be conducted as to the universally best approach to education, and families and school administrators must evaluate all benefits and cautions of year-round school in order to implement the best possible approach for their students.
Do you think schools should continue year round? Please comment below with your thoughts on year-round education—we’d love to hear from you!