More Districts are Shifting to Year-Round Classes to Boost Performance

bennett27s203rd20gradeSchool leaders are increasingly adjusting their calendars, with more than 3,700 public schools operating year-round in 2011, according to a 2014 Congressional report. In addition, at least 30 states have schools operating on the alternative calendar.

“It’s a viable way to minimize the summer learning loss that occurs annually,” says David Hornak, executive director of the National Association of Year-Round Education, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. “The bulk of the research speaks to the fact that lower -income students do better on the balanced calendar. However, my research indicates that all kids benefit.”

In addition, the alternative calendar allows for regular and more frequent breaks—a benefit teachers notice. “It really creates these nice learning chunks, paired with these great breaks,” Hornak says.

Educators have sometimes likened a school year to running a marathon. And the balanced calendar offers more chances to rest and refuel—enabling a strong effort in the next leg of the race. “When (teachers) are in front of their children, they’re better able to engage kids because they’ve had the opportunity to recharge,” he says.

Researchers found that average passing rates for students in the year-round school were higher than for pupils following a traditional calendar, according to the 2012 study, “Texas Elementary School Academic Achievement as a Function of School Calendar Type.” It analyzed the test results at 51 public elementary schools in the state in 2009 and 2010.

The most popular model is a “45-15,” in which schools hold nine weeks of classes (45 days) followed by three-week breaks (15 days). Other options include 60-20 and 45-10 schedules, as well as a multi-track calendar that alleviates overcrowding by staggering classes over different months so only four out of five students are on campus at any given time. The number of school days typically remain the same or at least similar to a traditional academic calendar.

“Even before the idea of the balanced calendar, I made a point to build relationships,” says Simmons of sharing his initial plans with state lawmakers, business leaders and other community members. “I knew I was going need their monetary support, and their voice and influence, to pull it off.”

Read the entire article from MacKenzie Ryan on District Administration at http://www.districtadministration.com/article/schools-say-goodbye-summer-vacation

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