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Students in these kinds of schools do not attend school longer, but they do not have a summer break that is longer than any of the other breaks that they take during the school year.
Research done by McMillen (2001) indicated that there were 106 schools in the state of North Carolina that operated on the year-round school calendar for third through eighth grades during the 1997-1998 school year. McMillen (2001) then conducted an analysis of the academic achievements of these students and compared them to the academic achievements of students in the same grades that attended schools where the traditional calendar was still used.
Data for the study came from a database of statewide testing in which 95% of the public schools in the state participate. In order to determine the academic achievements of the students, McMillen (2001) looked at achievement test scores and demographic information that was collected from each one of the students. That data was then used to create variables on the student level that were used as covariates in the analysis of the achievement test scores. The focus of the study was on the differences in achievement test scores between students that attended a year-round school and students that attended traditional school, but the demographic information was used to control for the last year's test scores, the highest educational level of the parents, and ethnicity, and the gender of the students.
Available data came from students that had taken the statewide tests in grades 4 through 8 during 1998, and the final sample was comprised of students that had taken the test in either mathematics or reading in 1998 and had also taken the statewide test for the same subject during 1997. Students that did not have data available for both years were excluded from the study, as were students that were retained during that time and did not move on to the next grade level. To achieve the results of the study, a hierarchical linear modeling procedure was used to look at differences between the students.
Initially, the analysis done by McMillen (2001) showed that there were no statistically significant differences between the students that attended year-round school and the students that attended traditional school, and this was true for both mathematics and reading. The statistical analysis was controlled for gender, ethnicity, parental education levels, and prior achievement. There was some indication, however, that students that were lower-achieving to begin with, as well as Caucasian students, may see some benefit if they attend a year-round school. Another finding of the study was that students that have parents with higher levels of education might actually perform better under the traditional August to May calendar than under the year-round calendar (McMillen, 2001).
However, both the lower-achieving student findings and the parental education findings were very small in magnitude and not all subjects and program types showed this correlation. The study results were important, however, because they correlate with other studies that have been done into this issue that indicated no significant differences between students that attended year-round school and students that attended traditional school, with the possible and somewhat questionable exception of students that were lower-achieving (McMillen, 2001). Past studies that have shown differences may be based on those schools that have a year-round calendar where the students spend much more time in school, as opposed to those schools that have taken their 180-day calendar and distributed it more evenly.
Proponents of year-round education claim increased retention and improved academic achievement for students attending school on a year-round schedule Hazelton, Blakely, and Denton (1992). Other benefits include decreased vandalism, increased attendance, reduced student and teacher fatigue, maintained enthusiasm and interest in learning, and better continuity and pacing for student learning. Economically, year-round schools make the best use of school facilities also (Proctenable, 1996; Bradford, 1996).
One of the main proposals to switching from traditional school schedules to year round is because this change allows for a better use of time and resources for all of the stakeholders that are involved. The main reason is to address the problem of "summer learning loss." Summer learning loss is a term which was penned by researchers who have studied the negative effect which long summers are now known to have on students (Gerard, 2007).
According to the National Association for Year Round Education, there is convincing evidence (educational research) that a year round school schedule makes a difference in the overall learning of students. Educational research is very clear that there is summer learning loss because of the long summer vacation of the traditional calendar. That finding is rather consistent across many studies. The largest study in this field of study was done by a team in the psychology department at the University of Missouri, Columbia, headed by Dr. Harris Cooper (1996).
The study found that summer learning loss is a reality, that all students lose in math and spelling skills, and many, though not all, lose in reading skills over the traditional summer (Harris, 2003). At best, students show little or no academic growth over summer. At worst, students lose one to three months of learning. Summer loss was greater in math than reading, and achievement scores were generally one month lower in the fall than when students left school.
There are many reasons for school districts to consider year round education. According to the Painesville, Ohio City School District, (who recently proposed the implementation of year round school):
There is a perceived slide in student performance as a result of lengthy summer recess.
Students will achieve a better front-loaded alignment to the high stakes assessments.
Provides natural breaks in instruction to remediate based on short cycle assessments.
Climate control in new school buildings makes year-round utilization more attractive.
PCS currently have a number of students participating in programming much longer than the traditional school year.
Provide an option for parents and staff that may prefer a more distributed calendar.
The effects of a modified school calendar on student achievement and on school and community attitudes have been positive for those schools that currently follow a year round schedule. Study findings have shown that balanced calendars are even more effective for students with greater educational needs. Students, parents and staff also reported generally positive experiences with the balanced calendar (Cooper, Valentine, Charlton, & Melson, 2003).
Although Year round education has the potential to solve budgetary, population, and even academic problems, YRE affects every part of a school and schools should consider the negative perspectives of YRE as well as its benefits. Some of these considerations are:
Not all schools are the same. While a year-round school may work in an urban or migrant environment that does not mean it will work everywhere (White, 1985).
Offseason vacations often cause problems. Student summer activities may be disrupted as well as extracurricular activities and sports (Oxnard, 1990).
Without the long summer break, teachers may not be able to continue their own education by taking university classes. Schools may need to offer in-service training (Merino, 1983).
Families and family traditions can be disrupted by YRE, especially if siblings are attending schools with different calendars (Carriedo & Goren, 1989).
Many parents experience difficulty finding off season childcare (Carriedo & Goren, 1989).
Facility cleaning and maintenance will be disrupted.
Year round education is a relatively inexpensive method of reform that allows educators to deal with population increases and budget constraints, reform curriculums, and close the achievement gap. However, it is important to consider its effects on families, students, teachers, and administrators (Vanessa, 2007).
Overall, research on school calendar options has proven that no studies demonstrate effectiveness of the traditional calendar. No studies demonstrate academic harm in any of the modified/balanced calendars. Meta-analyses to date suggest a slight gain for all students on a YRS calendar. Gain of one month each year for twelve years equals 1.33 additional years on instruction, and more significant gains are noticeable in specific populations (Harris, 1996).
In America, at the start of the 21st century, it is necessary to visit how much time is devoted to learning of the course of a lifetime and how that time is spent" (NAYRE).
YRE Data in the United States:
Total number of States implementing YRE =
Total number of Public School Districts=
Total number of Public Schools= 2,861
Total number of Charter Schools=
Total number of Private Schools=
Total number of Schools (Public, Charter, Private) = 3,074
Total Enrollment (Public, Charter, Private) =
Through 2005-2006 School Year)
According to Kelly (2007), "The studies comparing the year round to the traditional schedule are problematic because they are inconclusive. For one thing, it is difficult to isolate the year round calendar as the reason for any positive or negative results. Further, we have to question the agenda of the people performing the surveys. The fact is that the biggest gains were made in schools that were truly trying to improve the overall quality of education. Implementing the…[continue]
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