The end of summer vacations is what most people think of when year round education is brought up. But is that all that it is about? Is year round schooling a better environment for students? Are those students smarter than students in traditional learning environments? Is it more cost effective?
For everyone involved in the education system from parents and students to educators and administration, the issue of year-round schooling brings a passionate response from people both for and against it.
So just what is a year round education exactly? A typical American school operates on a ten month system. This system was originally established during a time that children were often needed to work in the fields during the summer. Since then times have changed. Many people desire to disregard this system entirely and move to a year round education.
It’s important to understand that most students in year-round schools attend school the same number of days, usually 180 days, as students in traditional nine-month schools. So for most students there is no advantage of additional time in the classroom. Year round schools spread their 180 days out differently with small breaks between each term. The most popular example of year round education is the 45-15 plan. This has students attending school 45 days and then getting three weeks (15 days) off. The normal breaks, holiday and spring, are still built into this calendar.
There are several popular arguments used by those who are for year round education. Some believe that students forget a lot of what they have learned during the summer and that shorter vacations might increase retention rates. There are also some people who suggest that schools that are not being used in the summer are inefficient. There is also the argument that other countries around the world use this system.
However, the major benefit of year round schooling appears to that it facilitates continuous learning as the students are not out of school for a long period of time. As a result, the students tend to forget less over the shorter breaks, and teachers spend less time reviewing material.
Just as there are several popular arguments for year round education there are several popular arguments against year round schooling as well. There seems to be a major inconvenience to families with children who are in need of child care during the multiple breaks in schooling. It is also more complicated for families to plan vacations. Some people argue that students are going to forget information whether they are out of school for three weeks or ten. It also is a concern to many that student summer employment will be virtually impossible as will summer camps and vacation bible schools among the other typical summer activities of children. The major reason stated by the majority of those who oppose year round education is that their children are in need of a longer break because they are so busy during the typical school year with sports and other extracurricular activities. Summer vacations give children a chance to simply be children.
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. The fact is that the biggest gains were made in schools that were truly trying to improve the overall quality of education. Implementing the year round schedule was just one of their efforts to achieve this end.
If students, teachers, and parents are not supportive of the new schedule, it is bound to fail. If they are making their decisions based solely on funding they are quite possibly setting the system up for failure. Schools that are investigating year round education need to decide what they are trying to accomplish and whether a new calendar will move them further towards their goals.
Ultimately, it appears that there is simply not one better way of schooling than another, but two separate forms of schooling which provide a proper education to its students. For both types of schooling the children and the quality of their education is priority.
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