Contrary to common perception, year-round schools don't meet every weekday for the entire year outside of breaks. Instead, they have varying schedules, such as 45-15, which means you go to school for 45 days and then get 15 days off. The 60-20 format is also common. The benefits and drawbacks of year-round school are constantly debated in educational circles.
Increased Academic Retention
One of the most common criticisms of the traditional ninth-month school year is that students easily forget what they learn during a three month summer break. With the year-round format, you minimize the risk that students will forget what they learn as they progress from one academic year to the next. The perpetual nature of the school year can reduce the amount of time needed at each new grade level to review prior year learning. An April 2010 article from educational association ASCD indicated that most students show that year-round school students perform at or above peers.
The school district benefits from a year-round schedule as well. With limited budgets, school officials are concerned about the inefficiencies in operating buildings during the summer when few teachers, administrators and students are at school. With a year-round schedule, the building is used more efficiently throughout the year, especially during the periods when students are in-class. Schools can also make money during off-times by renting space to community groups.
Extracurricular Scheduling Challenges
Students get involved in sports, band and clubs to gain a more well-rounded school experience. With a year-round schedule is more difficult to schedule practices and events for some activities. If a 15 or 20 day break occurs mid-season, for instance, the school must figure out a way to work out a schedule or have students come from home to practice each day.
School and Work Conflicts
Year-round school also creates scheduling difficulties for families. Year-round school is often a district-wide policy, but not always. Parents with kids in schools that have different schedules must coordinate getting some kids to school while others are at home. For parents who both work, arranging childcare and activities for kids is more difficult with frequent, brief breaks than it usually is for a three month summer break.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.