Is Year-Round Learning Better?
About 8,700 public elementary schools have switched to year-round schooling, in which the students attend alternating 45-day sessions followed by three-week breaks to relieve overcrowding. But this system has a side benefit: Because there's no summer vacation, the kids have less time to forget what they've learned.
"It's a promising idea from an academic standpoint, because children aren't away from school for so long," says Jeff Smink, vice president of policy at the National Summer Learning Association. "However, the early research is clear that students must be engaged in learning even during the shorter breaks to limit the impact of summer learning loss."
Chicago Public Schools introduced a 12-month calendar in 2007 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the district's chief executive. Two years later, a greater percentage of students in the pilot program met or exceeded state standards in reading and math than for the district as a whole. "Year-round schooling, extending the school year, and extending the school day can address problems like summer learning loss and offer students the time they need to be prepared to graduate from high school ready for success in college and careers," says Duncan.
Wondering if your child could benefit from a year-round schooling approach? Go to nea.org/tools/17057.htm to learn more about it.
Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Parents magazine.