Year-round schools aren’t unheard of. Over 3000 schools in the U.S. are on a year-round schedule, with 10% of public school students attending year-round schools. As the name suggests, a year-round school schedule lasts throughout the year. Summer break is reduced, and the days removed are added into fall, winter, and spring breaks. The majority of schools, however, operate on the traditional calendar – with 86% using extended summer breaks in addition to standard holiday breaks placed throughout the year. Because many schools utilize this schedule, the advantages of its year-round counterpart often go unacknowledged. The potential benefits of this schedule, however, are quite significant.
One way in which a year-round schedule is beneficial is that it enables students to retain more knowledge. In the traditional calendar, the first few weeks of school are typically spent reorienting students to the learning environment and reminding them what they were taught the previous year. Year-round schedules eliminate much of this problem. If a month were borrowed from summer and spread throughout the school year, there is a higher chance of students maintaining the knowledge they had previously gained due to more frequent exposure to curricula, which reduces the time spent refreshing students’ memories. In addition, when it comes to the traditional schedule, there is an increased risk of students not retaining what they’ve learned due to a lengthy summer. On average, year-round students improve in math proficiency by ten percent and reading proficiency by eleven percent overall, while non-year-round students only improve by eight percent in math and nine percent in reading. Also, the national dropout rate for non-year-round schools is five percent while the rate for year-round schools is just two percent. This marked difference in the amount of students who are performing well below acceptable levels of academic achievement shows that for some students, not having year-round schooling serves as a major detriment of their ability to retain knowledge.
A year-round schedule can also increase the size of the student body if it is on a multi-track rotation. During a traditional school year, students and teachers are in school or on vacation at the same time. However, during a multi-track year-round schedule, students and teachers would be split up into four or five groups. Groups are staggered so that when one group is on vacation, the others are in school. For example, a school with a 1,000 student seating capacity can accommodate 33% more students.
Lastly, year-round schools can reduce crime substantially. With a traditional schedule, during the summer break there is nothing mandating that students who live in environments plagued by illicit activities must be kept off of the streets. Thus, for two continuous months, those students are vulnerable to participating in such crime. Although the amount of time spent on breaks is the same for both traditional and year-round schools, the key difference is that students are more frequently in the classroom and not out on the streets, which decreases crime. According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), in a survey of 79 school corporations whom were already implementing year-round schedules, 60% of the respondents reported a decrease in the minor crime rates of students when compared to rates that were recorded before the application of the new schedules. Also, only 7 percent reported that there were rises in minor crime rates, and it was found that these rises were caused by factors other than the new schedule. Furthermore, 51% reported of the respondents reported a decline in rates of vandalism while only 5% reported increases.
Although many benefits accompany a year-round school schedule, there are still those who argue that there are notable downsides. Regarding the effect on families, some believe that such a schedule can serve as a major detriment towards strengthening familial social bonds. Since it is an American norm to have two months of summer break, many parents say their strategy towards strengthening inter-family relationships is by planning long vacations. However, families can simply plan more frequent bonding activities, such as reunions, over the course of the whole year, which allows family members to be around one another more often. In addition to the perceived negative effects on families, those who are in favor of traditional schedules also argue that when there are shorter but more frequent breaks, it makes it hard for a student to gather motivational momentum. Although this may be true in some cases, a summer break that accompanies a traditional schedule can truly kill the motivation of a striving student because that student has the freedom for two months to continually take part in activities that aren’t conducive to academic improvement.
Although much of America is accustomed to having a summer break, to disregard year-round schooling would ignore the substantial benefits that may come with such a system. Hopefully, as the American education system improves, facets of this system are implemented to lay the foundation for more productive youth.