Year Round School Makes Sense
One downfall is the difficulty students have retaining knowledge and information from the previous year. Typically, teachers spend the first six weeks of the new school year reviewing material from the last instead of moving on to the new material. The department of education has indicated the need for change. According to the Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Barak Obama has called for a longer school year to help American students compete with students around the globe (Dessoff, 36). The future of America is in the hands of today’s youth.
Students that attend year round schools are at an advantage over students that attend traditional schools in the area of knowledge retention and access to quality teaching staff. The traditional school schedule is out-dated. Summer vacation finds its roots in farm life. In years past, children would attend school in the months that parents could spare their help. When school let out for the summer, many students would trade in their formal education for one more practical, yet just as important. The schedule made sense then, but fast-forward to today’s society.
Less families farm and the ones that do don’t rely as heavily on manpower, especially their children. Those who oppose year round schooling argue that summer camps and family vacations are an important part of growing up and would be missed if summer vacation were done away with (“Leave Those Kids Alone: The Case For Long Summer Vacations”, 5). Summer camps can provide employment and experience for both high school and college students. They can also be seen as a supplementary avenue in learning and social opportunities for students. However, due to he increasingly high cost of summer camps they are limited to those that can afford them, leaving an educational gap between the children who are privy to such experiences and those who are not. So while some children continue their education at summer camp, others are left in front of the television with nothing to do. Studies show that in low-income areas year-round schools help children to retain information, which in return improves their test scores (Huebner, 34). Test scores are the method by which schools and teachers are evaluated.
Children in low-income families are less likely to have as much access to educational programs and tools in the home. In order to help these children, many year round schools also offer remediation programs during the breaks. Consistent class times and a steady teaching staff are assets to students and assist them in retaining knowledge. The well known year round school formats are: single-track, multi-track, and extended year. The single-track format tends to be the least expensive in terms of schools making the change from a traditional calendar year.
It also seems to be the easiest for families to adjust to. 90% of year round schools are on a single-track schedule (Dessoff, 36). The single-track schedule refers to one student body attending the same schedule throughout the entire year. Students attend school at least 180 days over one year’s time period with shorted breaks. This is different than the traditional calendar that contains one short winter break, one short spring break, and an extended summer break. Year round schools on a single-track tend to attract teachers.
Some even have a waiting list for teachers anxious to get into the classrooms (Ballingall, 28). Many who teach year round find enjoyment in the sporadic vacation breaks. This not only allows them to better enjoy the different seasons, but also provides time to regroup and rest. Healthy, rested, happy teachers can mean less money spent on substitute teachers and sick pay. Multi-track refers to two or more groups of students attending the same school on two different schedules; while one group of students is on break, another is attending school.
This method would be the most cost effective for the school districts that have outgrown their buildings and are in need of new construction (Watkins, 465). Under the multi-track plan there are several options including 45/15 and 60/20, meaning 45 days in school and 15 days off or 60 days in school and 20 days off. Not only can the multi-track plan save on construction but also saves on maintenance and staffing costs. However, there are downfalls to the multi-track method. The biggest downfall would most likely be the increased probability of teacher and administrative burnout.
To contend with burnout, one Superintendant compared the way in which hospitals operate to that of a year round school. He mentions that doctors care for their patients, but each day they must clock out and trust the next shift of professionals to carry on with their patients. Similarly, teachers and administrators on year round schedules must be willing to relinquish control in order to avoid burnout. Extended year only differs from a traditional schedule in the number of days scheduled. Typically extended schedules tack on 20 additional days per school year.
Each school district must decide which schedule best suits the needs of their community. For areas that are predominately low income, year round schools seem to be the best solution. For schools in extreme climates it may not be a good option. Extremely warm climates may suffer from the additional air conditioning costs. Extremely cold climates may suffer from extremely high heating costs. However, for the majority of America, the savings in one season offsets the additional cost of the other. In all areas, America must continue to evaluate the system on which the future depends so heavily.