A Look at Year-Round Schooling The battle between year-round schooling and traditional schooling has been going on for decades. While some may say that year-round schooling is beneficial academically, it should not replace traditional schools because it also causes stress on administrators, takes away the traditional summer, may be more expensive than traditional schools, and has no proven effect on test scores. These cons far outweigh the benefits of year-round schooling. Multi-track schools are the champion of year-round schooling.
By having students in different groups(tracks) that switch on and ff vacations at different times, multi-track schools allow for additional pupils to use the school and for a school building to be used throughout an entire year. However, there are hidden costs. With multi-track schools, there are no breaks between groups of students (Wildman et al. 465). Administrators have a difficult time taking vacation days. For example, one administrator at a multi-track school says, “I never, ever, had a break”(qtd. in Wildman et al. 65). Little time off from the stressful job of teaching can lead to burnout, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the condition of someone ho has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time. ” Burnout is an important problem, as another administrator states,”I think there is a tendency for administrators to be less enthusiastic about routine things” (qtd. in Wildman et al. 465). Less excited teachers could lead to less excited students and lower test scores.
While there are more, longer breaks for students and administrators in single track year-round schooling, administrators of a multi- track school are on the job the whole time while the students’ tracks are rotating vacations. Research also found that even though there are more frequent breaks in year-round schooling vs. traditional schooling, administration burnout is not reduced (Opheim et al. 115+). Another downside of year-round schooling is the effect on collaboration between teachers. When schools are teaching on multiple tracks, not all the teachers are at the school at one time.
One year-round principal says. “It’s kind of difficult to keep a cohesive staff when you’ve got a chunk of folks not there”(qtd. in Wildman et al. 466). When teachers cannot collaborate, the sense of community within the school decreases. Teacher Carol McGown, after switching back to a traditional schedule from a year-round schedule, says, “When you can collaborate with all the other teachers and everyone is on the same page, it is a big benefit for the children”(qtd. in Rubin). Traditional schools create a community where everyone is on the same page. Year-round schooling divides teachers and students.
The next victim of year-round schooling is the traditional summer. During this time, students can go to summer camps and learn about what interests them. Specifically, summer “has become a kind of occupational testing ground”(“Leave” 4+). With year-round schooling, there is no summer and therefore no summer camps. Summer camps also provide more than just a learning experience to students. Camp counselors are a staple of the teenage job market, and there is no need for counselors if there is no camp. The long summer break is no longer just about lounging around in pajamas.
It is also about learning something new, seeing and experiencing things children cannot normally in a classroom setting. Camps are not the only things affected by the loss of summer. Tourism is also reduced because students cannot go places if hey are in school for eleven out of the twelve months in a year. The financial cost is staggering; “In 2000, Texas found the economic costs of starting school in early August totaled US$370 million lost in summer employment, lowered tourism spending and additional air conditioning costs” (“Leave” 4+).
Education also suffers with loss of tourism. Billie Bussard says, “The year- round calendar limits the window of opportunity for parents to give their children learning experiences outside the school walls” (qtd. In Harpaz L5). Year-round schooling is detrimental towards the economy and a child’s mind. Summer also allows for family time. Since students are on break more frequently on a year-round schedule, it could be hard for a parent to get time off to go on vacation. Also, families could have multiple children on different tracks.
This creates a problem when the breaks of the different tracks do not line up (Harpaz L5). For some families, summer is the only time available to see relatives that live far away. Finances are one reason schools switch to a year-round calendar. Multi-track schools house additional students which reduces the need for new schools, ultimately saving money (Wildman et al. 467). Since these schools can ease overcrowding, districts short on money switch to multi-track instead of building new schools. Single track schools, which run year round but only with one group of students, do not save money.
Single track year-round schools “typically cost more to run, thanks to air-conditioning, extra transportation costs and other expenses” (Harpaz L5). Single track schools do not have the benefit of housing more students, so the extra costs associated with running a year-round school do not balance out. While a multi-track year-round school can save “significant amounts” (Wildman et al. 67), one must remember the downsides of such a system. Planning time for teachers decreases in a multi-track environment (Wildman et al. 465).
The cleanliness of the school can also go down on a year-round schedule, as “Maintenance is needed more consistently because of year-round use of facilities; maintenance may become a problem because major repairs can no longer be done in the idle months of summer” (Opheim et al. 115+). Also, as the summer vacation is absorbed into the year-round calendar, the chance for a student to take summer classes disappears. Perhaps the strongest argument for year-round schooling is hat it positively affects test scores and learning in general.
The proponents of year-round schooling say that “eliminating any sort of long break from school can improve a child’s academic achievement” (Kalil). In simpler terms, getting rid of the two to three month long summer vacation and replacing it with more frequent three week long breaks can improve test scores. Doing this reduces the supposed “summer slide”, or learning loss, that occurs over the summer months. One study, conducted in 1996 by Carolyn Kneese concludes that “year-round education has an overall positive, but very small effect on academic chievement” (qtd. in Wildman et al. 468).
However, other studies find little to no difference between traditional and year-round school test results. In Utah, it was found that traditional schools did better than year-round schools on tests (Harpaz L5). Another study, conducted by Campbell in 1994 found “no educational achievement differences” (Wildman et al. 467). Another argument against year-round schooling is that the frequent breaks are actually worse than the traditional summer break.
Patterson says,”The year-round schedule, with its many breaks of two to four weeks, nly maximizes forgetting and requires far more time spent on reacclimating students” (qtd. n Wildman et al. 470). These frequent, short breaks disrupt the steady flow of the learning environment and can cost teachers more time reteaching than if they were on a traditional schedule. Year-round schooling has its benefits. It might reduce learning loss and, if using a multi-track system, can save a great amount of money. However, those benefits do not outweigh the cons of this system. The quality of learning is lowered when teachers are stressed and have no time to plan.
The traditional summer s whisked away, and along with it goes the money a town receives from tourism and a teenager’s first job as a camp counselor. The choice to switch to a year-round school is not based on academic purposes but rather “out of necessity” says Priscilla Wohlstetter, who directs the education governance program at the University of Southern California (qtd. in Rubin). If a school is overflowing, if the district has no money, the reasonable choice is to switch to a year-round multi-track school. But if a school is fine, if the students are comfortable and doing well, a switch would be a detrimental decision.