American public schools tend to use the traditional 180-day school calendar that includes a three-month long summer break. But more and more school districts across the country are switching from the traditional calendar to a year-round calendar. Part one of this blog series provides a basic overview of year-round public school calendars, about which there is much debate. The discussion continues here with information about some of the pros and cons of year-round calendars.
There are many pros and cons to year-round school, as there are with most things. Proponents of year-round schooling believe that the pros outweigh any cons, citing things like a more consistent practice of effective study habits that can be achieved during a year-round school schedule, better retention of academic information presented over the year (avoiding the infamous “summer slide”), and keeping students intellectually engaged continually and more effectively overall. On top of these benefits, supporters believe that students in year-round school settings can more easily form close friendships with other students and more effective relationships with teachers.
There are few countries in the world that offer more than seven consecutive weeks of academic break/vacation for students, which contrasts significantly with the break/vacation time given in the US. As noted in The Edvocate, “The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research finds that the average American student receives thirteen weeks off of school each calendar year—with ten or eleven of those coming consecutively during June, July, and August.” Those who support year-round schooling believe the average of 13 weeks off to be a great waste of time for students.
People who do not prefer year-round school focus on cons. They believe that it is not beneficial for students to have a shorter summer break than allowed via a traditional academic calendar; they suggest that students get overwhelmed by year-round calendars that require them to spend so much time on campus with shorter breaks. Further, they say that it is a disservice to teachers who can become burnt out due to the short breaks because they need more preparation time; they say that teachers do not get the personal time they need since they use so much of it to prepare for each upcoming academic session.
Nevertheless, it turns out that the year-round school calendar is gaining traction as a viable option for American schools. A growing number of schools in the US have opted to transition from using traditional academic calendars to year-round academic calendars instead in recent years, as efforts towards education reform continue. Such growth has education officials and school administrators reviewing current research and conducting more research as well; they are examining data to find out if there are more benefits than not when it comes to year-round schooling. While both traditional and year-round school calendars continue to be used across the country, the debate continues as to which is most advantageous to American students.
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