Imagine a child, on a hot summer day… no baseball, no swimming, no picnics or amusement park rides. Instead of spending time doing all of the things kids like to during summer vacations, this child, is attending school. Year round education (YRE) has been around since 1904, with 3,000 schools and 2 million students currently using the program (National Association). Students in year round schools go to school the same 180 days that traditional schools attend. In YRE, the summer vacation is eliminated, replacing it with shorter, more frequent breaks.
There is a number of ways the year round school can operate, including: 90/30, 45/15, and 60/20. The most popular of these calendars is the 45/15, where the year is divided into 4 nine week terms, separated by 4 three week vacations (National Association). YRE has been a debated issue in education almost since it began. Supporters of YRE say this schedule improves the learning process. The biggest debate, however, comes from the parents and teachers who believe there are no proven studies that YRE helps the learning process at all.
So, is year round schooling a good choice for the education of your children? YRE will not only hurt the education system, but it will create chaos for the lives of the students attending and their families. Supporters of YRE believe year round schools are more cost effective than traditional schools. With population in some districts rising rapidly, YRE is said to reduce overcrowding of schools and classrooms. In many cases, school calendars are changed in response to population growth. By running schools all year, districts can pack in more students and postpone building new schools (Endless Summer).
Supporters of YRE say that by staggering vacations and schedules, schools can increase capacity by 25-50 percent (Should Kids go). Supporters argue that the costs for the transition form a traditional calendar to year round schools are modest compared to the construction costs of new schools (Inger, Morton). However, those against YRE feel that expenses will only be reduced temporarily. According to a “Year Round Education Study” conducted by the Lewisville, Texas Independent School District, “Findings of a year-long study concluded that there is no financial benefit to operating a Single Track System.
The system would cause a modest increase in operational expenses without providing any instructional benefits” (Time to Learn). In Iowa, the Carroll School Board found that the costs of the district moving to a year round education system could range from $16,786 to $32,412. Taylor Elementary School, in Cedar Rapids, spends more money according to the classroom teachers that any other elementary school. Schools in Davenport reported that the switch to YRE will cost an additional $36,000 in salaries, $3000 per year for equipment, and supplies, and $22,300 as a one time expense for teacher training.
Plus, the move to YRE would also cost the district an extra $92,626 to fully air condition the school building. In Des Moines, Moulten schools spend about $80,000 annually for year round schooling. If YRE were implemented, Indianola school districts would spend an additional $3,655 for middle school and $5,000 for elementary school to pay for the additional secretarial, administrative, and custodial time during the summer (Time to Learn). Costs will not only be incurred with the schools, but also with the state and with taxpayers. Cost savings for one of these groups may create cost increases for the other (Naylor, Charlie).
Contrary to what supporters of YRE claim, there are definitely extra costs to implementing and maintaining a year round education system. Supporters of YRE say that year round schools would promote continuous learning. The belief is that students forget a lot of what they learn while on long summer vacations. This is seen more in slower learning students and for those who know English as their second language. It is also thought that because students retain more when the learning process is interrupted for only short periods of time, teachers in year round schools need to spend less time reviewing pre-vacation material (Inger, Morton).
Although this seems true, opponents believe that there is research that needs to be addressed. Mary Lee Smith and Gene V. Glass have done extensive research in year round schools since 1974. In a study conducted by Smith and Glass, in a school district in Colorado, the learning loss in the students was evaluated. They found that although teachers in year round schools spent less time reviewing pre-vacation material than teachers in traditional schools did, the actual achievement differences were insignificant on tests designed specifically to measure district objectives (Glass, Gene V).
According to Don Patterson, a member of the Albuquerque, New Mexico School Board that tried and rejected year round schooling, “Short term memory loss is very acute. Studies show that the only discernible summer loss occurs in the first two to three weeks. So, by introducing all these multiple breaks, all you”re doing is maximizing forgetting. ” It has also been proven that forgetting and relearning are part of the learning process. Gaps in student”s learning begin with loss of context retention in the subject area, which begins within 24-48 hours, unless the new information is reinforced or applied immediately.
After a month without reinforcement, about 80% of what a student has learned is recently lost. Research indicates what we retain depends on student motivation and teacher-effectiveness and isn”t limited to a time factor (Time to Learn). It is quite obvious that YRE does not improve the learning process, as those who support YRE claim. Supporters of the year round school system believe there are many benefits in the program for students and teachers. Advocates of YRE say families have greater flexibility in planning vacations that often cost less.
Parents that support YRE feel that the shorter, more frequent vacations allowed students to remain focused and enthusiastic (Prisoners of Time). Angie Maniscalco, a 5th grade student at Fairmount Elementary in St. Louis, says, “Kids should go to school nine weeks and be off three because, kids get bored in the summer. They get sick of swimming every single day going skating or basically doing anything. I go to school for nine weeks, then get off three” (Should Schools). Supporters also believe parents who are working outside the home can take advantage of year-round care for their children.
Teachers that support the idea of YRE feel that the more frequent breaks reduce burnout, and that the frequent breaks during the school year enable teachers to visit and learn from other programs and other teachers (Prisoners of Time). Those against YRE have different views about what year-round schooling will do for the students and the teachers. In year round schools, middle, elementary and high school students often have different schedules. While vacationing in the off-season may work well, when children are on different schedules, vacations can be more of a problem.
YRE can certainly disrupt family life. With different ages of students, vacations are difficult to schedule. For example, children on non-traditional schedules may miss out on Boy Scout Camp, because their summer vacation falls in the month of August and the activity is programmed for July. School activities can suffer as well. One study found that band, chorus, drama, and student government were particularly hit hard (Never Ending School). While there may be some benefits to YRE, it is obvious that there are many situations where the year round calendar will cause confusion in the lives of those involved.
Perhaps the most debated issue in YRE is that of the achievement scores. Supporters of YRE claim that student performance in year round schools is much greater. They believe that year round schools will yield higher achievement scores that traditional schools. Many advocates for YRE claim there are studies by the National Association for Year Round Education that report that year round schools have a very positive impact on student grades. Although supporters boast high achievement scores on tests, and higher student grades, those against YRE disagree (Year Round Education: Is).
Critics of YRE say there is no evidence for higher academic gains under YRE as compared to traditional schools. Studies and test scores repeatedly show little improvement by students in year round schools. When test scores do increase, many educators hesitate to attribute increases to the new calendar (Time to Learn). Many of these studies, have been conducted by the National Association for Year Round Education (NAYRE), a highly biased organization, whose consultants earn significant amounts of income by promotion YRE.
Robert Rosenfield, a systems analyst from Potomac, Maryland, was so concerned at what he considered to be misrepresented data by the NAYRE that he analyzed a substantial number of YRE evaluations in a 1994 paper. He concluded, “Each study presented in the NAYRE review has either been incompletely characterized, or otherwise contradicted by other studies within the same state or district. Nothing in the NAYRE review demonstrates any academic achievement gain by changing to a year-round calendar.
In a 1993 Resnik study of Oakland Unified School District, California, concluded, “Students at year-round schools show on average a lower academic achievement level than those at other schools, and their achievement has decreased for the period, while it increased for schools in the regular calendar. ” Overall, as you can see, there is little difference in student achievement between year-round and traditional calendars (Year Round Education: Is). As evidence has shown, year round education will not improve the education of our children. YRE will cost more money for schools.
YRE will not promote continuous learning. YRE won”t create benefits for students and teachers, but will create chaos in the lives of the people around them. Achievement scores in schools with YRE will not increase, but in fact, in some cases, get worse. A few spoken views on YRE say it best. Sheila Duty Gibson says, “Many students show that year-round schools do not improve education. Changing the days students attend school does not address what many believe are the real problems in education such as a lack of parental involvement, teacher development, effective teaching methods and curriculum.
An anonymous editorial in a North Carolina newspaper says, “It”s time to face the truth. The year-round schedule is a personal preference, not the answer to our educational problems. Year-round school doesn“t work for everyone. ” Executive Editor of Elizabethton Star in Tennessee, said it well when he said, “Summertime offers our youngsters an extended time to experience life in such a way that will never again be afforded. If we are going to do anything with respect to school scheduling, we should extend the summer vacation to Labor Day” (Time to Learn).
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