iSearch Policy Research:
The Effectiveness of Year-Round Education
In 1904, the first year-round school in the U.S. was opened in Bluffton, Indiana for the purposes of increasing school building capacity and student achievement (Glines, 1995). Over the course of the 106 years since, the issue of year-round schooling and its effectiveness still provokes a strong reaction from parents, educators, and students on both sides of the aisle. The opponents of year-round education state there is negligible benefit to the year-round calendar, but the proponents cite the advantages of year-round education, stating it gives students a considerable competitive advantage over their peers. Whose opinion carries more validity? Is year-round education more effective for student progress? Or does the year-round calendar simply cause more headaches for already stressed school systems? This paper will attempt address the pros and cons of year-round education (YRE) and explore the effectiveness of the policy, as well as potential development of the policy for the future. Traditionally, schools in the United States have operated on a 10-month education system, now widely known as the “traditional school calendar”. Because children were often needed to assist with farming during the summer months, this calendar was established and coincided with the needs of our agrarian nation (Research Spotlight n.d.). However, times, as well as our nation, have changed immensely since the traditional school calendar was implemented and within the last decade there has been a major effort throughout our nation’s school districts to change their calendars to a year-round schedule. The “year-round” title associated with the modified calendar is actually a misnomer, as the year-round schedule is not an extension, but actually just a reorganization of the traditional school calendar (Year-Round Schooling 2004). Palmer and Bemis (1999) state that year-round schools are defined as ones that “reorganize their calendar such that blocks of instruction and vacation are spread throughout the year to make learning more continuous. Such programs do not add instructional days to those required of students, but simply reallocate the approximately 180 school days.” The renaissance of the YRE movement can largely be attributed to 1970 from the amount of media coverage given to the Valley View, Illinois School District 96, which was the first in the nation to implement a year-round calendar district wide to address school overcrowding (Hermansen, K.L. & Gove, J 1971). The economic turmoil of the 1970’s brought on a strong anti-tax sentiment among the people of the United States and this created a perfect climate for the year-round movement to flourish (Bussard n.d.). From the 1987 to 2003, there was a 544 percent increase in year-round school implementations among the public schools of the United States (Year-Round School n.d.). As of 2007, YRE calendars had been implemented in 3,181 schools in 46 states and affecting 2.3 million students (Year-Round School n.d.). Although the general number of schools using the YRE calendar fluctuates yearly, the numbers of overall schools utilizing it are gradually increasing, and because President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently endorsed the idea of YRE calendars, this trend is likely to continue. One facet of YRE calendars is the ability to implement a multi-track scheduling system in an effort to alleviate overcrowded schools and save the school systems, and ultimately taxpayers, money. In the multi-track system, students and teachers are divided into groups of about the same size. Each group follows its own schedule, so that one track is on vacation while the others are in school (Year Round Schooling 2004). Proponents of YRE calendars say this allows school districts to maximize the use of facilities, increasing the capacity of schools by 33 percent (Typical Year-Round n.d.)....
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