Definition of Year-round school

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Definition of Year-round school

Year round schools as cited by the thesaurus in the ebsco host states that year round schools are “schools that operate year-round but have not increased the number of days students must attend.” Education week on the web states that year round education is “A modified school calendar that offers short breaks throughout the year, rather than the traditional summer vacation. The calendars vary as do the reasons for switching to a year-round schedule. Some schools stagger the schedules to relieve crowding. Others think the three-month break allows students to forget much of the material covered in the previous year” (2002).

History of traditional calendar school

It is important to understand the reasoning behind the traditional nine-month calendar school year to understand why certain people believe there is a need for change.
Woodward, A.C. (1995) “At one point in time, farming was the primary source of income for families, and everyone in the family was obligated to help. With this in mind, school calendars were scheduled to revolve around the harvesting and planting of crops.” However, the farming population in America dramatically decreased, although the shift away from farming had occurred, the change in the school calendar had not (Huitt, 1995). It is presumed that the school calendar did not change because of tradition of summers as vacation time and the temperatures. Because of the lack of air-conditioning, most schools opted for summer breaks due to the extreme heat and humidity (Glines, 1992).

II. Implementing Year-round school

“As determined by the New York State Board of Regents (1978), this school schedule encouraged forgetting. Longer breaks between formal instruction inhibited a student's ability to retain information.” (Woodward, 1995). Many year-round school advocates also argue that year-round school will ease overcrowding, enhance student learning and retention, and reduce cost. (Ballinger, 1988). Alcorn (1992) stated, "If students' longest break from the classroom is one month instead of three, it is possible to avoid what can be called the long summer of forgetting”(p.13). Ballinger (1988) asserts that it is time for a change in the school calendar because “the customary long summer vacation disrupts the continuity of instruction that curriculum planners desire.” He states that a less interrupted flow of instruction will help and enhance the knowledge learned of most able students by not reviewing at the beginning of each year and wasting time.

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Another point of Ballinger’s for year-round school is the fact that many older students are left alone all day in the summer months “free to roam neighborhood streets, unsupervised, unemployed and unoccupied.” Ballinger asserts five important reasons for year-round schools. He states that learning is more continual, memory loss is reduced by shortening summer vacations, remediation can occur throughout the year by using more frequent vacation periods and financial reasons (Ballinger, 1988).

III. Benefits of Year-round Schools

Community Benefits

There are many benefits of year-round school that affect the surrounding community as well as those involved with the school. The American Association of School Administrators (1973) asserts that year-round schools are beneficial to the community because they raise public awareness of the value of education. Some supporters of year-round school also argue that the growing number of children with nothing to do in the summer months is a huge problem, and that year-round school could reduce vandalism and other juvenile problems with the law (Ballinger, 1988).

Teacher Benefits

Contrary to many beliefs there are many benefits associated with year-round schools for teachers. Improved pay and better work schedule are two of the most important. Year-round schools can meet the interests of teachers who want extra days and extra pay and also meet the wishes of those who want to keep their vacation days intact (Stenvall, 2000). Many teachers believe that the quality of instruction in year-round schools is better than that of traditional programs due to the continuity of instruction (Quinlan, George, & Emmett, 1987). Some teachers in the year-round school system also believe that it has a positive impact on the way they think about and plan for instruction because of the organization of the instructional time (Shields & Oberg, 2000). Because of the regular intervals throughout the academic year, teachers find it more efficient and productive to plan curriculum for shorter amounts of time (Shields & Oberg, 2000). It was reported that the absences of teachers in year-round schools were considerably less than those of other school schedules (Quinlan, George, & Emmett, 1987). Teachers also have the choice to enjoy vacations in different seasons throughout the year (AASA, 1973).

Parent Benefits

There are numerous parental benefits but for almost every benefit listed there is a counter disadvantage. Advocates of year-round schools state that year-round schools solve the problem of looking for long term childcare over the summer. Along with teachers being able to take vacations in different times throughout the year, students and therefore families, have also gained that choice through year-round school (The Washington Post, 2001).

Student Benefits

The advocates of year-round school are pushing the student benefits as the biggest reason for pushing year-round school programs. Oberg and Shields observed year-round school programs in which they showed much improvement. The improvement was decreased learning loss over a shorter summer vacation, increased opportunities for remediation, and positive changes in school programs (Shields & Oberg, 2000). A study in 1978 (New York State Board of Regents) shows that forgetting learned material was shown to be different for each type of student, but disadvantaged students are opt to forget as much as three months of learning during summer vacation. “Disadvantaged students are seldom introduced to motivating environments and subsequently often acquired no additional learning during this time” (New York State Board of Regents, 1978). (Woodward, (1995). “On the average, these students not only experienced more difficulty in attaining knowledge, but they also tended to forget the material more quickly.” Doyle and Finn (1985) argue that year-round schools are beneficial to special education children because it institutes a larger measure of routine. This is why, at least in the case of disadvantaged children year-round school would be extremely beneficial.

Some studies have reported that the frequent vacations that year-round schools provide contribute to better behavior (Gitlin, 1998). “In a case study of Huntington Park High School, Jefferson County, California, Gitlin found that educators noticed immediate changes in the transition to a YRS program. With 1,000 kids on vacation at any given time, it was found that there was less pushing and shoving, fewer verbal accusations, and better discipline (1988).

Ballinger (1987) studied the benefits of year-round school on bilingual, limited English, and English as a second language student. Ballinger found that year-round school provided the additional exposure to English speaking environments. This was an asset to those students who may have spent their entire summer in non-English speaking environments.

Shields and Oberg (2000) also implement that year-round school positively benefits “at risk students” in the inner city based on their research. In the Washington Post (2001), an article states that remembrance of work has increased because of shorter breaks and asserts that in some counties test scores have even gone up. Students who need extra help are able to get it during the intercession before they get too far behind (The Washington Post, 2001). In addition year-round school appears to be reducing the rate of dropouts. In Jefferson County schools (CO), the dropout rate went from five percent to only two in the same schools after the schools changed to a year-round program.

IV. Disadvantages of Year-round Schools

Disadvantages financially

Obviously a year-round school will cost more to keep open than maintaining the same school for only the 180 days that the traditional school calendar offers. Some of the things that raise the cost of year-round schools are maintenance, repair, and utility expenses. Also, the school personnel, such as teachers, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria personnel, counselors, nurses, bus drivers must all be available all year long and this usually means a proportionate increase in salary will occur. In some schools the Principals’ workload dramatically increased forcing the county to hire new vice principals to help with the increased administrative load.

Parent and Students Disadvantages

There are many potential problems associated with year-round school for families. Some of these problems include participation in extracurricular activities and family schedules. “Indeed, problems in coordinating extracurricular activities for secondary students in one of the primary reasons that a majority of year-round schools are elementary schools,” (Opheim, Mohajer & Hopkin, 1995). Many parents also find it very inconvenient to have one child in a traditional calendar school and another in year-round schooling, this is why many are pleased that most year-round schools are offered as an alternative rather than a mandatory program (Read, 1992). The article in the Washington Post (2001) listed some of the disadvantages of year-round school being parents often have a hard time finding childcare for the three week breaks throughout the year, and kids will miss out on summer camps and just enjoying the warm weather of summer.

Teacher Disadvantages

Some of the issues brought up by teachers in year-round school settings involve problems with continuing their education, organizational issues, and conflicts in personal schedules. Many teachers in year-round programs are forced to move from classroom to classroom throughout the school year. Teachers are concerned about lost materials and just the general stress brought on by constantly moving. Another concern is the teacher’s involvement in extracurricular activities at the school. Many activities and sports will continue while they are on break, this forces the teachers to either give up their vacation or find someone willing to cover for them (Shields & Oberg, 2000).
There are also other personal scheduling problems associated with year-round schools for the teachers such as family vacation times, and educational summer job conflicts. Continuing education for teachers is a big problem with year-round programs. “The professional development courses needed for teachers to acquire additional licensure or certifications are often during the summer when year-round schools may still be in session” (Minnesota, 1999).

V. Conclusion

Comparing the Benefits to Disadvantages

Although there are many benefits to year-round school programs such as budgetary, population, and academic problems, there also many things to consider that are not beneficial. Some of the disadvantages include off season vacations which could often cause problems, student’s summer activities, such as camps, may have to be given up, teachers may have problems with continuing their education and family traditions could be disrupted, especially in cases where siblings are attending schools with different calendars. Also, many parents find it hard to find three week childcare providers

Although there are many studies that include beneficial aspects, there are just as many that include the negative aspects of year-round schools not only on students, but teachers, communities, parents and financial aspects. In Woodward’s literature review (1995) she ends with the statement “Findings pertaining to the success of year-round school schedules are at this point inconclusive.” Although the purpose of this research paper was to compare the effectiveness of traditional-calendar schools to those of year-round schools with respect with overall achievement in students, I have found that at this point in time there is not enough information and reports produced to conclude with the success of one or the other. It is clear that there are many different perspectives on year-round education and there may not be one simple solution but rather just considering what type of school calendar is best for each individual child


Ebsco Host Thesaurus, definition of year-round school, Retrieved from the Ebsco Search on April 29, 2002

The ebsco host thesaurus provided me with a general statement of what year-round school is.

Doyle, Denis P. and Chester E. Finn, Jr. (1985). Now is the time for the year-round school. Principal, September, 29-31.

Gitlin, Lisa. (1988). Year-round school. When you get rid of the emotionalism-does it make sense? Instructor, 98(1), 16-19.

Oberg, S.L. and Shields, C. M. (2000). Year round schooling. Journal of Educational
Administration and Foundations, v12n2 (pp.75-87) Maryland: Scarecrow Press Inc.

Alcorn, R. (1992). Test scores: Can year-round school raise them? Thrust for Educational
Leadership, 21, 12-15.

Glines, D. (1992). Year-round education: What lies ahead? Thrust for Educational Leadership, 21(6), 19-21.

Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning (February, 1999). Working Group on
Alternative Calendars: Report to the Legislature.

Quinlan, C., George, C., & Emmett, T. (1987). Year-round education: Year-round opportunities.

A study of year-round education in California. Los Angeles, CA: California State Department of Education.

Read, Robert W., Jr. (1992). Year-round schools in Texas: A survey of the attitudes and values of selected elementary school teachers of the Northside Independent School District. Unpublished.

Stenvall, M. (2000). A checklist for success: A guide to implementing year-round schools. San Diego, CA: National Association for Year-Round Education.

Opheim, C., Mohajer, & Hopkin, K. (1995) Evaluating year-round schools in Texas, Education, Fall95, Vol. 116 Issue 1, p115

American Association of School Administrators (Eds). (1973) Year-round community schools: a framework for administrative leadership. Virginia: American Association of School Administrators

Ballinger, C. (1988) Rethinking the school calendar. Educational Leadership, Hot Topic Series. Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa

Huitt, W. (1995, September). The future and education. Lecture presented in PSY 702:
Conditions of Learning at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA. (URL:

New York State Board of Regents. (1978). Learning, retention, and forgetting (Tech. Rep. No. 5). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 172 324)

Woodward, A.C. (1995). Effects of school calendars on student achievement and retention. PSY 702 Conditions of Learning, Retrieved February 26, 2002 from the World Wide Web:

The Washington Post (2001, August 22). Some love it, some don’t. Retrieved March 3, 2002
from the World Wide Web (Lexix-nexis academic search) keyword: year-round schooling.

Newsday, Inc. Newsday (New York, NY) April 26, 2002 Friday, QUEENS EDITION, Pg. A40,
354 words, EDITORIAL; Ease Overcrowding by Allowing Year-Round School

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