As a future educator, providing the best education for future generations is extremely important to me. A lot of debate occurs as to what this “best” education looks like and how we can provide it, but one of the most highly debated topics is the suggestion of year-round education. Although there are many different models for what “year-round education” can look like, the basic premise is that students would have shorter breaks between their semesters, quarters, or terms instead of one long break in the summer; most of the debate among this decision revolves around the factors of academic achievement and economic reasoning.
Supporters of year-round education suggest that academic achievement in schools will go up if the school system is changed as retention and tutoring opportunities increase and absences decrease. According to these supporters, retention of information among students will increase as there is no longer a large gap in the presentation and practice of knowledge to students (“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education”). Many believe that if shorter breaks are given in increments, this will prevent students from ignoring school work for long amounts of time, leading them to forget the information they have learned (Pearson).
Similarly, supporters of the year-round education system suggest that tutoring opportunities will increase if a more constant form of teaching is provided. According to the California Department of Education, students, particularly economically disadvantaged students, would be given more opportunities for tutors as less amounts of information would need to be covered over shorter periods of time (Pearson). The logic behind this idea is that because students will be retaining more information consistently and will have less time to forget that information, less tutoring time will be needed; this focalizes the time the tutor and the student spend together, resulting in less time and money needing to be spent.
Lastly, in regards to academic achievement, those who support year-round education believe absences among both students and teachers will decrease if short breaks are given in the school year. In the year-round system, students and teachers will be given consistent breaks, which supporters view as a system that will help prevent them from getting sick and burnt-out, as the long summer break tends to do (Pearson). With smaller breaks, students and teachers will also be able to constantly recharge during the school year, providing more enthusiasm and willingness to learn while they are in the classroom (“Research Spotlight”).
However, those who do not agree with the year-round education suggest that more negative than positive academic outcomes would come out of changing the school system. Those who do not support the year-round education system point out that there is no actual research supporting that year-round education would improve retention, and that, in fact, it may be hurting student’s education overall (Lynch). As summer break is a common time for teachers to prepare materials and lesson plans for the next school year, taking that time away from them could greatly alter the efficiency and effectiveness of what they are teaching. In a year-round calendar, teachers may not be given enough time to access the materials they need or be able to research different teaching methods that could greatly affect the way that they are teaching students (Brown).
As well, people who do not support year-round education believe that students who benefit from remedial and supplemental classes during summer school will not receive the support they need from the type of education that would be provided during year-round education. Yet, not only would these students be negatively impacted, but all students would be negatively impacted as students may struggle with focusing back to class time after ever short break is taken (Lynch).
Similar disagreements also take place regarding economic reasoning that would result from a change in the calendar years for schools. Supporters of the year-round system claim that two economic benefits will result from changing schools’ calendar systems: school facilities will be used more effectively year-round, and families who travel will ultimately spend less on vacations. When summer break occurs, that leaves an average of three months where school buildings are not being used and certain equipment pieces are not being maintained; this is seen as a waste of resources in year-round supporters’ eyes as the building is just sitting there and will likely need to have repairs done to its equipment when the schoolyear starts again (Pearson).
On the same note, those that agree with year-round education state that breaks in increments instead of one long break will prevent families from spending large amounts of money of vacations. With smaller breaks, families will still be able to vacation, but they will be less likely to stay as long or go as far, which, in turn, saves them money (Pearson).
On the contrary, those who are against year-round education suggest that the lack of a summer break will not only affect the employment of both students and their parents, but will also greatly affect the overall budget of the school. As summer is a common time for older students to seek out employment, sometimes even full-time employment, opponents of year-round education suggest that students will no longer be able to maintain this type of employment with shorter, more spread out breaks (Brown).
Scheduling is also pointed out by opponents of year-round education as influencing the income of parents. Parents of younger students will need to find childcare or take off of work more frequently if shorter breaks are given to students, leading them to lose a substantial amount of income no matter which choice they make (Brown).
Finally, those who oppose year-round education also point out the financial influence no longer having a summer break will have on a school’s overall budget. As not only power but air conditioning must be supplied for students in the summer, schools would likely expect a great increase in their school budget. As most schools cannot afford to change their budgets, money that would be set aside for things such as extracurricular or learning programs would have to be redirected to pay for these expenses, negatively impacting students’ educations (Lynch).
Although there are many arguments present for both sides of the year-round education argument, those both for and against the schooling system acknowledge that there is no conclusive evidence of the effect of changing the calendar year of schools on academic performance and financial decisions (“Research Spotlight”). With that being said, I believe that the current structure of schooling is the most affective for future generations. As it becomes more and more difficult to hold the attention of students as time goes on, I believe that constant break would cause difficultly in maintaining focus on teachings. As a student myself, I have personally witnessed and experienced the lack of focus and discipline students have right before a break and right after a break, which would be a constant in the year-round system.
As well, in regards to retention, information must be constantly studied, repeated, and made meaningful in order to be stored in long-term memory. Although I do agree that it would be helpful that no long break would be present for students to forget a majority of the information they learned, there is no guarantee that students will practice good studying and learning methods simply because they have had less time to forget.
Therefore, although proponents of the year-round education system suggest students, parents, and schools would benefit from more consistent breaks and less time to forget information and waste time, by analyzing academic and financial reasoning, I tend to agree more with those that advocate against the changing of school systems.
Brown, Mary. “The Year-Round School Debate.” SchoolMoney, SchoolMoney, 5 Mar. 2016, www.schoolmoney.org/the-year-round-school-debate/.
Lynch, Matthew. “Year-Round Schooling: 3 Common Arguments Against It.” Education Week, Editorial Projects in Education, 3 Jan. 2015, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2014/07/_year-round_schooling_3_common_arguments_against_it.html.
Pearson, Amy. “Year-Round School Advantages & Disadvantages.” Seattle PI, Hearst Seattle Media, 2017, education.seattlepi.com/yearround-school-advantages-disadvantages-2521.html.
“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education.” National Education Association, National Education Association, 2017, http://www.nea.org/tools/17057.htm.