Counterpoints to Widespread Misinformation on YRS
YRS benefit claims can't be substantiated
For the 30 years between 1970 and 2000, unsubstantiated claims of
year-round schooling benefits spread largely unchallenged throughout
the nation's media, education journals and government reports. The
unchecked statements helped perpetuate the perception that experiments
with the year-round calendar were a great success story and that
year-round school was the wave of the future.
School is a timely idea.
education is not an idea for the new millennium, but a failed school
reform from the early 1900s — the Horse and
No 2 :
The current school year is an obsolete “agrarian” calendar.
Reality: Agrarian calendar is a misnomer. The traditional school calendar with a long summer break is a compromise arrived at by rural farming areas and city centers as they incorporated into large school districts after government funding made access to high school more readily available. The actual traditional school calendar of 170 to 180 days didn’t become practice until World War II. -Source: Shepard and Baker, 1977
The Cotton Pickin' Truth About the Agrarian Calendar Myth surfaced during the height of a heated year-round school debate in March 2001 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., when Nell Blakenship, a past president of the Rutherford County Historical Society, shared her research on the issue. Starting the school year in late July and early August more resembled the agrarian schedule of the Depression era, when schools let out three to six weeks in the summer so children could pick cotton, the historian said, adding:
"We've just gradually worked back to July. Each year we go a little bit further back to the calendar of the 1930s."
The traditional school calendar gives children excessive free time.
society has provided many educational and recreational options that keep
today's children busy and engaged during the 40
weeks of the traditional school year. Today’s children spend weekends
such things as sports teams, arts programs, jobs, computer learning,
helping with household chores and baby sitting in families where there are
two working parents, as well as special school projects and hefty doses of
Year-round school reduces “summer learning loss.”
research shows the percentage of children returning in the fall knowing
less is small. For most, however, the loss is pretty close to zero. . . .
reduces the four to six weeks of review time teachers typically
spend in the fall.
show real learning loss occurs within two weeks of leaving school,
therefore a year-round schedule which creates more frequent breaks
requires more review time and less time on task.
A traditional calendar creates more learning because learning is a
A year-round calendar is
beneficial to society in general because it fits local circumstances.
year-round calendar is out of sync with a society that has built its
schedule and family traditions around the school year. Having different
communities around the nation on different school calendars complicates
life in many ways. Among the increased complications: difficulty
scheduling family visits, school competitions, summer camp, athletic
events and college course work required of teacher to maintain
Year-round school “intersession” programs work.
are too little too late.
No. 8: A year-round school offers more school enrichment opportunity.
school systems that cannot afford to build schools and barely have funds
for textbooks are unlikely to be able to afford enrichment programs.
Year-round school answers English learning problems of immigrant children.
schools were used for the same reasons at the turn of the century and were
abandoned in part because they failed to fulfill the English language
A year-round calendar is
better because it instills the idea that learning is like the work of
is not exclusive to a classroom. It is a natural and continuous human
process that occurs in or out of school.
A year-round calendar is more suitable because it allows families
to take vacations all seasons of the year.
families can afford
more than one vacation a year and often that is taken close to home
and in the summer.
If it were a more suitable calendar, why is there such a low
participation in year-round calendars used by private schools, which are
attended by children of families who can afford to vacation any time of
of schools are adopting alternative school calendars.
numbers of school districts are rejecting the idea of a year-round
calendar either after sad experiences or after careful study in which they
reach the conclusion that calendar reform is a bad idea. (See The
Year-round school reduces student absenteeism.
accounts of absenteeism problems caused by the year-round calendar are
found in media accounts. San Diego, is one of the best examples. In 1993,
the school board issued a three-year moratorium on year-round schools
because so many children failed to show up for the first day of school in
mid summer. Similar stories are told in New Orleans where high absenteeism
of both students and teachers was among the reasons Lockett
Elementary School returned to a traditional
calendar after eight years if YRS.
Vandalism and juvenile crime decreases under a year-round calendar.
flies in the face of reports by Gang Services officials in Los Angeles who
say there is corresponding growth in gangs and the emergence of the
That’s because a year-round calendar creates thousands of
latchkey kids, who are left unattended during frequent breaks that allow
for more unsupervised time.
More unsupervised time often corresponds with increases in drug
experimentation, juvenile violence and teenage pregnancy. Many
parents have told school boards that child care is easier to
arrange for a longer summer vacation than multiple short vacations
throughout the year.
A year-round calendar reduces tensions between students and
demands of school.
year-round calendar creates more tensions,
especially on a multi-track system when best neighborhood friends
are placed on different tracks and are unable to participate
together in sports and
other extracurricular activities.
A year-round calendar improves the academic environment.
year-round schedule often limits elective choices because specialty
teachers cannot be available for all tracks. The overall academic benefit
of a year-round calendar is unsubstantiated in credible research studies.
Jobs are not affected by the school calendar.
Reality: Travel-related employment is ranked No. 1, 2 or 3 in 11 of 14 states, according to one survey of member states that make up the Southern Growth Policies Board region. So those jobs tied to tourism, camping and amusement industries and products manufactured for summertime activities are impacted by shrinking vacation time for children and families, and subsequently, the economy is impacted. A year-round calendar and early school year also limits opportunities for teenagers to hold summer jobs, which are often critical for college.
Student vacations are less of an issue then most educators think.
How long must a vacation be to restore someone?
vacations are not only about “restoring” children or teachers after
rigorous academic schedules, but about having the freedom, choice
and time to learn or do other things.
Academic data on existing year-round secondary schools are promising.
Reality: Most of the data cited by year-round proponents over the last 30 years comes from studies that have been discounted by researchers because of flawed methodology. At best, the academic results found in the majority of these older studies are mixed. Serious doubts about performance benefits of school calendar reforms are found in more recent studies by Mitchell at the University of California, Riverside, and by McMillen with the North Carolina Department of Education, Division of Accountability Services.
Year-round schools will curb social problems.
school experiments that began in the early 1900s were abandoned in part
because they failed to answer social problems back then. Why will they
address the problems of the new millennium any better?
Year-round schools answer economic needs of the nation and is an efficient
use of taxpayer money.
calendar is actually more costly and only postpones the inevitable need
for building new schools.
The wear-and-tear and maintenance costs involved in operating a year-round school negate any perceived
Even under optimal circumstances, the savings are insignificant,
California year-round incentive money program "costs as much as
building new schools . . . Districts are getting paid twice--once to avoid
construction, and once to build traditional calendar schools."
with many education innovations, advocates of year-round schooling have
sometimes oversimplified and exaggerated the financial benefits that will
accrue to districts on year-round schedules . . .In some instances,
savings have been so minimal that year-round schooling has been abandoned
after just a few years of implementation."
The traditional calendar has been around 100 years and has outlived
traditional calendar as we know it has been around about 50 years. It
continues to work very well for American society, which has built its
traditions and business schedules around it.
If today's school calendar were obsolete, why would industrial competitors, like Japan, be adjusting their calendars to
more resemble that of American schools?