The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Arguments For Year Round School. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Public opinion is divided on the issue of whether or not American schools should adopt year long curriculums. But conventionally, schools across the country have adhered to schedules that would give pupils a break of three months followed by nine months of study. In recent years, some journalists and commentators have suggested that year long schooling could benefit the students in the long term.
This essay will foray into the arguments made by proponents of year round schooling.
At the root of the debate is the fact that the knowledge and acquired skill levels of students in America is on a steady decline. This is indicated by statistics pertaining to standardized test scores. The supporters of year-round schooling argue that such an arrangement would help improve the knowledge and skill levels of students.
In other words,
“With the heightened emphasis on standardized test scores and the implementation of rigorous, mandatory tests for promotion and graduation now being required in Virginia and other states, students need all the extra instruction they can get. Some students, particularly in urban and rural districts, may never pass without added instruction. And parents should be well aware by now that social promotions are happily a thing of the past.” (Washington, 2001, p.2).
Viewing this issue from the perspective of the teachers, it could be said that the presently valid mandatory schooling period of 180 days does not allow them to cover the entire course material, thereby leading to poor learning outcomes for students.
In the prevailing system, a high schooler gets an average of “five hours of instruction per day for five days a week for nine months”, which is way below the education standards in many European countries (Washington, 2001, p.2). Students in most industrialized nations attend school six weeks longer on average than their U.S. counterparts. Moreover, in the United States, “37 of the 50 states have fewer than 10 year-round schools and just three (Florida, Texas, and California) have more than 100. Less than three percent of public schools are year-round, and 84% of year-round sites are at elementary schools, mostly in states with benign climates.” (Reading Today, 2004, p.39)
There is a legitimate concern that year-round schooling would disrupt social activities such as family get-togethers, camping and travelling, which have educative value in their own right. But for some parents longer schooling year serves as a child care facility. Research findings also point out that shorter breaks during the academic year helps students retain more information as they rejoin after vacation. Proponents of year-round schooling argue that the real advantage of this format is that it is less disruptive to the process of instruction and assimilation. The format also enforces a sense of discipline in students through its routines, which is an important aspect of schooling as well. As Adrienne Washington asserts, the discipline acquired by following daily routines “can be the most valuable teachers about boundaries, limitations and responsibilities. Most teachers agree that students simply retain more information with breaks shorter than the 12-week brain-drain hiatus each summer” (Washington, 2001, p.2).
School authorities understand that students look forward to and cherish their holidays. But there is evidence that suggests that shorter breaks are more effective than longer breaks, and that many students prefer the former over the latter. Even from the students’ perspective, toward the end of a long three month break they feel very bored and are happy to resume school As experienced high school teacher Adrienne Washington remarks,
“By the end of the summer, I’m always amazed at how many children readily admit that they are bored and eager to return to class. But they are not ready unless their parents have attempted to do a little home schooling of their own with reading incentives, field trips or family learning projects. So teachers waste time reviewing old information when classes resume after summer.” (Washington, 2001, p.2)
It should be noted that even among those who support year-round schooling, there is no consensus as to the exact scheduling. Educationists such as Lawrence Smith prefer “a four day school week with a fifth day set aside for enrichment programs, including activities sponsored by local YMCAs, cultural centers, children’s museums, and other educational programs. On the enrichment day, teachers would have time to develop lesson plans and attend much-needed professional development programs” (Smith, USA Today, 2000). This schedule is quite different from the prevailing format for year-round schooling, wherein students attend classes for eight weeks and then have a two week break. Study reports compiled on the issue have come out in favour of year-round schooling. According to Lawrence Smith, who is an expert in education programs and was the chairman of the Elementary Education Department of Ball State University,
“Schools that begin the academic year in July and end in June would eliminate the problem of students “forgetting” learned information during three-month summer vacations, he maintains. After the long summer vacation, many at-risk students return to classes needing to have instructors reteach basic information during the first few weeks of classes. Parents really should be concerned with the retention of learned information. Every year, teachers have to go over the previous year’s basics to keep a class up to speed.” (Smith, USA Today, 2000)
One should also remember that there is a flip side to year-round schooling, which is that it is taxing on teachers and other school authorities. In conventional school formats, teachers can avail of a lengthy vacation at the end of each academic year. During this time some of them take up professional enhancement classes and teacher training to improve their skills. Others take a well deserved touring vacation and to meet up with family and friends. But a year-round schooling schedule would not provide such opportunities for them. This might be manageable for a few years in a row, but it would eventually lead to teacher burnout. A mentally burnt out teacher will prove to be a liability for students and the school alike and it is a situation that has to be prevented. There are even instances where relentless work schedule has led to divorce and other inter-personal problems for teachers (Wildman, 1999, p.465).
Hence, it is not a black and white situation where everything about year-round schooling is good. There are definitely many advantages that it confers on students, even if it subjects them to minor inconveniences. Educationists and other experienced teachers have also come out in support of year-round schooling. This should encourage policy makers to create alternative schedules for schools in the United States. These schedules could first be introduced in public schools and later adopted in private schools. By providing this option to students, we are creating genuine opportunities for them to raise their academic standards.
“Summer Institutes Spur Professional Growth.” Reading Today Apr.-May 2004: 39.
Washington, Adrienne T. “Information Age Students Need Year-Round Schools.” The Washington Times 27 July 2001: 2.
Washington, Adrienne T. “It’s Time We Went to Year-Round Schooling.” The Washington Times 15 June 1999: 2.
Wildman, Louis, et al. “The Effect of Year-Round Schooling on Administrators.” Education 119.3 (1999): 465.
“Year-Round Schools Can Stimulate Learning.” USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education) Aug. 2000: 7.