Year-round schooling promotes retention

Every year as the holiday season approaches, with this year being no exception, my family and I attempt to coordinate visits to our relatives and friends across and out of the country. However, as we begin to start coordinating dates and times, it always turns out there is barely any time to take a vacation overseas in the twelve days given, including weekends.

While there is always an opportunity during the three months of summer vacation, I would rather be with my family during New Year’s and other winter holidays rather than in summer. In order to be with my family during the holidays, I end up missing school, and find myself overloaded with schoolwork, which only leads to a loss of learning as I struggle to catch up.

With less than two weeks of winter break, but almost three months of summer break, I cannot help but wonder whether our calendar should be more evenly distributed. This would lead to students being able to visit family all-year round without missing school and falling behind in their classes, along with other benefits for the school as well as the students.

Currently, Shorewood, like many schools in the U.S., follows the traditional school calendar of a nine-month school year with a three-month summer vacation. However, the traditional system may not be the best method for students and schools any longer, and a more year-round system may be more efficient.

When students hear the term “year-round” schooling, they automatically assume a school year without any holidays. While in fact, the number of school days does not change, only the distribution of the holidays throughout the school year. When the traditional calendar system was established, the U.S. was a mainly agrarian society; children needed to be at home during the summer in order to help with housework or the fields. Unfortunately, in our modern day, this system no longer brings these benefits, but is detrimental to student test scores and their ability to learn.

Many parents, teachers and schools argue that changing the school schedule will upset the extracurricular programs and activities available in the summer. However, from the input of teachers managing extracurricular activities in year-round schools, adapting these activities into a year-round schooling schedule requires commitment from both the administration and the community.

Compared to many other nations and schools that provide year-round schooling, public schools that follow the nine-month calendar have fallen behind significantly in academic rankings.

According to the Journal of Action and Inquiry in Education, in 2005, close to 2,300 public schools in the United States followed a year round schedule and still operated without issue in the same districts with other schools that followed traditional calendars. Most schools from this program reported degrees of success of raised test scores after changing their schedules.

From a research paper published in the American Sociological Review after a study in 2007 at Johns Hopkins University, year round schooling was found to be more effective than the traditional schooling systems based on the removal of the “summer fade.” The “summer fade,” or summer deficit occurs when students do not receive formal education during the summer, leading students to lose almost two months of information learnt from the previous year. This leads to the first weeks of the new school year wasting time making up this lost information.

Schools that provide year round schooling have shown that their students have a greater ability to retain information, lowered tardiness and a higher level of alertness in the classroom over schools that continue with traditional schooling.

Educators have begun to re-think the advantages of a year round system, as the usefulness of an extended summer vacation is no longer relevant in today’s society. In order to provide students with the opportunity to travel and visit relatives year round, improve academic achievement and reduce tardiness, we should consider a year round school schedule for the elementary, middle and hopefully even high school level. 

by Happy Shimanukka (Shimana Bose)

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