Watch this space for information about and from grassroots groups around the country that are committed to saving summers for schoolchildren. Currently posted:
If you would like information posted about your grassroots group, please e-mail your name, address and phone number to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page updated August 15, 2001
following report is an excellent model for grassroots
groups to use as a guide in framing their own arguments in support of the
traditional school calendar and in opposition to school calendar reform
fads. It contains some of the latest research available and covers many
bases in the argument against school calendar change.
Coordinating Editors: Brian
Brown and Joan Frederick
Contributors, Authors, Reviewers, and Researchers
For summer to be
intellectually stimulating, it need not be, and indeed must not be,
regimented. It is a child's
right to be a child, and to enjoy the pleasures of a childhood summer.
That can't happen if every hour of your child's day is scheduled.
While no one wants his or her child slumped in front of the TV for hours
on end, neither do you want to make it a summer of stress.
For the authors, that quote comes at no more an appropriate time than
during the current debate on implementing year-round school at Whetstone
High School. Most of us began
this journey with that exact sentiment and the disruption we see by
year-round school. We then
set out to discover for ourselves if what the WHS administrators said had
basis in fact.
What we found out was that it had little basis in fact and in our view it
was another education gimmick. Herein
this document are a number of Research Results that support our contention
that there is no valid reason to move WHS, or any other Columbus Public
School for that matter, away from the conventional calendar. While some within the group have differing approaches, we all
are headed in the common direction to keeping WHS on the conventional
summary our major research results, supported by well-known experts, show
The report also covers local and national year round school efforts and discusses how many schools have tried but come back to the conventional calendar. In conclusion:
The initiators of this proposal submit they have investigated the concept and cite numerous advantages over the current conventional calendar. These proponents have embarked down the road toward implementation by taking votes of the school staff and student body. Additionally they have held, and scheduled, public presentations with certain parent and community interest groups seeking support for their proposal.
Many parents and community members remained unconvinced, citing many unanswered questions, and finding that a large body of information and evidence exist which runs counter to the proponents alleged advantages of an alternative calendar.
The authors of this report view this year-round
school (YRS) proposal as a radical alteration of the current conventional
The same authors and others became alarmed at the speed at which
this "exploration" was heading toward implementation, despite a
lack of community understanding of the issue and a true consensus.
As a result,
several members of the community formed a loosely structured group to
investigate both the concept and the WHS Exploratory Committee process.
The intent was to provide balanced information to the community at large,
to invite active involvement in the public discussion of this issue and to
stop the implementation at WHS if the investigation yielded no positive
data. This report is a result of that search.
While it does not cover all issues, it attempts to cover major
issues and research results about YRS and its impact on Whetstone and
other schools in general.
In July 2001, Dr. Gene Harris, the new superintendent of Columbus Public Schools, halted further public presentations by the proponents, until a feasibility study, at her direction could be conducted.
1.1. History of Year-round Schools
Year-round schooling has a long history in the United States, dating back to the 1800s, when it was used sporadically in northern industrial cities in an attempt to address the English language instruction needs of the children of immigrants.
By the turn of the century, it was being embraced as an answer for many of the same problems that plague schools today: overcrowding, funding shortages and improving the education process.
But the year-round school movement also has a long history of failure. Research on the year-round calendar by The National Education Association in a report released in 1958 found that every school system that had attempted a 12-month calendar up to that point eventually abandoned it. The reasons communities dumped it back then are the same reasons they dump year-round school today: Year-round schooling is disruptive to family life, provides little or no academic benefit and saves schools little or no money--and can even cost much more.
The revival of the year-round school movement in the late 1960s is a result of several dynamics at work in the post-World War II era. The baby boom sparked a demand for more school construction; meanwhile, the space race with Russia fueled yet another debate about the quality of American education. Around the same time, state, county and local governments were wrestling with ways to pay for the new school construction demands of rapidly growing suburban communities.
The national media reports about the use of a
year-round calendar to relieve overcrowding in the suburbs of Valley View
School District 96, near Chicago, sparked a wave of interest in the
year-round school concept in the early 1970s.
The Valley View School District, which includes Romeoville and
Bolingbrook, grew from 89 students to nearly 5,000 in 15 years and was the
first in the country to
The media attention given Valley View resulted in
consulting jobs in other school districts for Kenneth L. Hermansen, the
school superintendent and his assistant school superintendent, James Gove.
They would be instrumental in the formation of the National Council on
Year-Round Education, forerunner organization of the National Association FOR
Year-Round Education, the advocacy group that markets the year-round
school concept to school districts today.
There were other pilot programs under way in other
areas of the county at that same time, prompted in some cases by demands
of businesses for more skilled workers to run industrial equipment. This
equipment made it increasingly more difficult to rely on unskilled
laborers to fill in for workers who took vacations during summer when
their children were out of school and the weather was nice.
In summary, YRS is not a new idea and after 100 years of experimenting, there still is no proof of its benefits --academic or financial--and there is growing evidence that sending kids to school in the heat of summer may actually deter learning. (Source for the History: Billee Bussard, Author SummerMatters.com and Lessons Learned the Hard Way.)
2. Year-Round School - The Big Picture
YRS has the benefit of name to be inferred as a positive program since
most people infer from the name that school will be taught every day of
the year and more of anything in our society is presumed to be better. In
fact this is not true, and in most cases discovering this single fact
opens the inquiries as to what exactly is YRS.
YRS is known by many names. It
is Year-round School, Alternative Calendar, Extended School Year, Modified
School Year, Continuous Learning Calendar, Education For All Seasons, the
Balanced Calendar, Flexible Scheduling, and the Remedial Calendar. All of
these are terms used to describe what essentially is a year-round school
calendar. In most
cases, the YRS calendar adds no more days; rather it shuffles the current
180-day schedule so that students have 9-week sessions followed by
three-week breaks; it shortens the summer vacation to 5 weeks.
National Association for Year-Round Education (NAYRE) is a non-profit
organization founded in part by Dr. Charles Ballinger, and is based out of
San Diego, California. This group openly submits they are a national
advocacy group for year-round education and a clearinghouse for
information supporting year-round education. They promote and sell
reports, studies, and information supporting the YRS concept. They also
provide for fee services that link prospective year-round districts and
schools with consultants who can guide them in exploration and
implementation of YRS. Some of the consultants are school administrators
who have first hand experience implementing YRS. For instance, Mildred
Sexton, Principal, Spratley Middle School, Danville Virginia is listed on
the NAYRE website as a paid consultant. (See http://www.nayre.org/consulting.html)
NAYRE also holds an annual convention to promote the YRS cause and to
provide a path to market for vendors of various services and products,
some of which are entertainment and amusement parks. (See http://www.nayre.org/conference.html#directory).
It is interesting to note that the 2002 convention to be held in San Diego
February 9 - 13, 2002 is not an expected intercession period.
The Current Educational Environment
Growth in Public Schools
Year-round school enrollment continues to experience sluggish
growth nationwide. Six states house nearly 82 percent of all
students enrolled in a year-round calendar school, while the rest of
the 394,081 students are spread among schools in 38 states.
While 2,162,120 public school students are claimed to be
attending school on a year-round calendar nationwide, nearly 1.8
million of those are concentrated in California, Hawaii, Arizona,
Nevada, Texas and North Carolina, all fast-growing states.
More than half the year-round school enrollment growth of
98,903 in U.S. public schools this year is in three states:
California, Hawaii and Nevada.
California, which houses more than 62 percent of all the
nation’s YR students, has nearly a third of the increase or 32,034
more students on the calendar.
of the five largest year-round states, Arizona and Texas, saw
year-round school totals decline by 22,328. Arizona has 13 fewer
schools on year-round and Texas has 44 fewer, according to recently
published figures by the National Association for Year-Round
(54% of nation’s YR growth)
Information was compiled by
Billee Bussard, editor, SummerMatters.com from data provided by the
National Association For Year-Round Education and the North Carolina
Department of Education.
It is estimated by one researcher, Billee Bussard, author of Lessons
Learned the Hard Way, that four times as many schools have considered
a year-round calendar and rejected it as have adopted it.
The reject list on http://summermatters.com
notes over 350 districts that have consider and rejected or tried and rejected
some form of year-round schools. The
reject list has been attached as an appendix.
Year-round schools are rarely used in the private sector. "Why do such a miniscule number of private schools (0.0015%) initiate year-round calendars?" as noted in "Do year-round schools improve student learning? An annotated bibliography and synthesis of the research" By Charlie Naylor, BCTF Research and Technology Division May 1995. .0015% is 15 in a million.
Authors of this report and other members of the community spent hours sifting through research and talking with others who are familiar with YRS initiatives and reports. The findings below are a result of that research. Given the limited resources of a grass roots group, the findings are as complete as time permitted. As events dictate, these findings and this report may be updated.
There are a variety of viewpoints concerning learning loss as it relates to year-round school, from one extreme to the other. Some proponents claim any break is detrimental to retained learning, while other propose a specific time period has acceptable learning loss. This summer learning loss belief is often used as the foundation for the argument that traditional summer vacation adversely affects the learning of students and that YRS calendar would solve this problem. They assume that relatively little forgetting occurs between September and June but a huge amount of forgetting takes place between July and September. They also assert that non-institutional learning has no value.
There are reasonable responses that refute the YRS argument.
Locally, Dr. Keith Owens Yates, Ph.D, ABPP-Cn, Director of Pediatric Neuropsychology at Children's Hospital wrote in a letter to Ms. Sue McNaghten , President of the Worthington School Board, that "I can find no research to support claims that a continuous learning calendar is superior to the traditional calendar….A search of the scientific literature reveals no research evidence that the continuous learning calendar results in significant improvement in achievement…. Loss probably occurs largely in the first few weeks of summer. From that perspective, the continuous learning calendar might actually result in more cumulative loss of skills that the traditional calendar."
Dr. Yates' position is further supported by information in the Introduction to Psychology, by Clifford Morgan, New York, 1966. His evidence is summarized in the report "In Defense of the Traditional School Calendar: A Report to the Sycamore Board of Education, February 17, 1993". That report concludes that " research studies performed over the past 100 years have consistently shown that most forgetting of new information takes place in the first 4-7 days after the material is learned. After this first week the rate of forgetting tapers off and there is very little difference between week 2 and 10." Dr Morgan states "Such a negatively accelerated curve of retention is the rule; practically all retention curves are of this general shape. (see chart)"
Dr. Maxine Gallander Wintre, York University, The Journal of Educational Research, May/June 1986 [Vol. 79 (No. 5)]. ABSTRACT: This study challenges the assumption of generalized academic losses over the summer vacation from school. Metropolitan Achievement Tests were administered to 54 grade I students, 56 grade 3 students, and 60 grade 5 students in the spring and again when they returned to school in the fall. The students were attending a Canadian school in a middle-class suburb of a large metropolitan city. Analyses revealed significant improvement of overall academic skills. There were also significant interactions with grade level and content area. A significant loss was found only for mathematics computation for grade 3 students. This improvement over the summer months for middle-class students is discussed within the framework of contemporary cognitive theory. Moreover, a possible explanation is suggested for the popular, misleading assumption of generalized academic losses
In summary, the widely held assumption of generalized
academic losses over the summer appears unwarranted. More specifically, academic
changes over the summer appear to be differentially affected by both
content area and grade level. This finding is of obvious practical
importance since costly educational interventions are routinely mounted to
counteract often nonexistent summer losses. It is important for
theoretical reasons too, for it lends support to the conception of
children as active, self-motivating learners.
Dr. Leo Wisenbender of the Los Angeles Unified Program and Evaluation Branch: "It is absurd to suggest that children aren’t learning during the summer. It’s a different type of learning, which simply is not tested."
Dr. M. C. Newland, professor of psychology, Auburn
University, 1998 “An effective education is
not a collection of quickly forgotten, isolated facts, but rather the
accumulation of a solid foundation of knowledge and a diverse array of
analytical and procedural skills that are not forgotten in a few short
The difference in the amount of forgetting after four weeks or
12 is not significant, especially when it is recognized that some of the
information had been taught almost a year earlier in the previous fall. In
fact, one could argue that a year-round calendar, with its multiple
three-week breaks, simply offers more opportunity to forget.”
Charles W. Fisher and David C. Berliner, editors of "Perspectives on Instructional Time," (1985) "Increases in the amount of instructional time without efforts to improve the quality of instruction are likely to be disappointing. Increases of time alone will fail to provide useful impact to teachers, to provide student learning tasks that are more relevant to outcome measures or to enhance in any way the skills and knowledge of teachers."
Cooper, H., Nye, B.,
Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., Greathouse, S. (1986) The effects of summer
vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and Meta-analytic review.
Bulletin of Educational Research, 66, 227-268. "Some students
benefited from long summer vacations, some forgot things, but in most
studies the net effect of summer vacation was close to zero.
On average, students returned to school in the fall close to where they
left off in the spring, with some forgetting of facts in which students
had not become fluent.
There was some (weak) evidence that students
diagnosed as learning disabled or considered to be at-risk showed some
loss during the summer, especially where the memorization of facts was
required. The overall effect is usually small, and depends on subject
matter and economic advantage
Concepts, reading skills, math concepts, grammar, and
similar things (“knowing how
to do something”) are relatively unaffected by the summer break."
Haenn, J.F. (1996) Evaluating the promise of Single-Track Year-Round Schools. ERS Spectrum, Fall, 1996. 27-35. "They did a pretest in May 1994 and a posttest in May 1995. All groups improved. Even those who moved out to a traditional year calendar. While there is much discussion of impressions of how the YRS helped, there was no statistically significant effect of “group.” That is, it did not matter whether the students stayed, moved in, or moved out."
“Year-round Schools Research Report,” Church-
Well Group Inc., 1988 notes
May not be the Answer", Randall Engle, Ph.D Georgia Tech, Psychology
and Human Memory, The State, May
1992 says that "children forget
most of what they learn in the first three weeks after a
lesson. Shorter more frequent
breaks give children more opportunities to forget and increase the need
The CQ Researcher: May 1996, Dr. Barbara Heyns, Ph.D, N.Y. University ,Sociology, contends that "there's no good evidence to support the claim that the Year-Round schedule enhances knowledge retention."
There are a number of studies that reveal there is no proof of academic achievement in YRS.
One such report is
“A Statewide Evaluation of Academic Achievement in Year-Round
Schools,” by Bradely J. McMillen of the Division of Accountability
Services, North Carolina Department of Education. This is the largest
comparison of the effects of school calendar change in the 100-year
history of year-round school experiments in the United States.
The North Carolina study of 345,000 test scores of
traditional calendar and year-round students found that year-round
calendar students, even though they had more classroom instructional time
because of intercessions, had no academic advantage. 57% of the North
Carolina schools on year round calendars have mandatory attendance at
intercessions for failing students.
The author points out a gaping hole in the research
on time and learning. There is a need for studies that “differentiate
between the effects of a year-round calendar and the effects of additional
instructional time on student achievement . . . .The
question of whether the total amount
of instructional time or the distribution of that time across the calendar
year might be responsible for any achievement advantages for year-round
schools has yet to be addressed,” McMillen said.
The data for McMillen’s study, which includes test
score comparisons of like socio-economic and demographic groups, was
extracted from two years of scores of 1,470 North Carolina public schools.
The sample included 106 schools that were operating on a year-round
calendar during the 1997-98 school year. The North Carolina year-round
schools also failed to reflect the academic advantage that is typically
associated with demographics of children who come from families with
higher levels of education. Students at North Carolina year-round schools
have parents with slightly higher levels of education than peers in
traditional calendar schools and are less likely to be minority.
The YRS concept did not deliver on promises of higher achievement
by advocates of a year-round calendar and longer school year.
McMillen reviewed the literature on time and learning
and found the research implies “that simply exposing students to
classrooms and teachers is not sufficient to affect learning, implying
that the educational quality of the activities and interactions that occur
in those settings mediates the relationship between time and learning.”
In conclusion, McMillen wrote" No statistically significant
differences in reading or math scores were found in test score comparisons
of traditional calendar students with those in year-round programs, either
a school-wide program or a school-within a school that also had a
Glass, Associate Dean of Research in the College of Education at Arizona
State University who has studied balanced calendars since the 1970s,
recently stated in the article "Summer vacation late in coming at
year-round school" published Tuesday, July 17, 2001, in the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer Reporter that "You can't scrape up a piece of
solid (test) evidence that academic achievement is superior on that (YRS)
calendar," he said. "The conclusion is that 180 days of
schooling a year gives you 180 days of schooling output, regardless of how
you arrange it or how you spread it out."
While test scores are only one measure of performance
and learning, they nevertheless do provide a telling pattern of low
performance in those states that were early to embrace the year-round
calendar. California has the
largest number of children in YRS with 1.3 million or 62 percent of the
nation's total in the 2000-2001 school year. A list of 1998 NAEP (National
Assessment for Education Progress) test scores in an Education Week
special report (2001) shows California ranks fifth from the bottom in
States with the largest and longest-running
year-round school programs are found at the bottom of the performance
rankings on national tests. In fact, three of the five states with the
largest enrollments of year-round students dominate the list of poorest
performers in the 1998 NAEP Reading Exam for fourth-graders.
In a report,
"Year Round Schools: Do they make a Difference?" Phi Delta Kappa
stated "Despite the claims that long summer vacations lead to
lessened achievement, year-round schools are not associated with great
leaps in academic achievement. Standardized testing shows that year round
programs have little impact on scores one way or another. If a district is
looking to show major increases in standardized tests, year-round schools
are not the answer."
While there are many reports that contradict claims of academic
improvement at YRS, one school official finds some negative impact
concerning YRS. Albuquerque, NM school board member Don Patterson notes
that "the grade-repetition rate among kids on year-round
schedules was twice that of kids on traditional schedules."
Although the Albuquerque system was multi-track, it does make one
pause to think if grade repetition rates might actually increase at WHS.
academic achievement is questionable at best, some examples of declined
performance can be cited. The
Jefferson County schools in Colorado abandoned year-round school because
in part of no educational improvement and in fact a decline in test scores
in one high school. A
year-round school researcher, Carolyn Kneese of the University of Houston,
while touting the benefits of YRE (S), admits that "if testing at the
third year, YRE (S) is quite possibly demonstrating a lower effect."
Journal of Research and Development in Education, Volume 29, Number
2 Winter 1996. Review of
Research on student learning in year-round education.
Carolyn Calvin Kneese, University of Houston.
Denver Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2000."The
early school start provided by the YRS calendar at five Denver
elementaries didn’t deliver on promised performance improvement. Third
grade reading and fourth grade writing test scores fell between 1998 and
2000; the six schools that had yet to switch to a YRS actually
outperformed the five schools that started early in 1999.
“Year-round school dies: Board votes to go back to traditional nine-month calendar next autumn,” Pahrump Valley Times, Pahrump, Nevada, Nov. 17, 2000. – The Nye County School District is ending its three-year- experiment with a multitrack year-round school, citing high costs and lack of educational benefit at the elementary school. The experiment was a quick fix for overcrowding that would have been continued if it had academic merit. “Well, all the data is in, and it’s not (educationally beneficial),” said Peggy Smith, school board member.
From the Meridian School District website (http://sites.netscape.net/sosmeridian.):
A review of test scores shows no advantage to year-round schools in the
district and a decline in reading scores in every grade level, according
to data compiled by SOS Citizen’s Group, a grassroots organization
opposed to the year-round calendar. The analysis of test scores published
in the Idaho Statesman in May 2000, shows a decline in reading for the
year-round students while there were increases for students on a
traditional calendar in a comparison of reading ability from fall to
winter of the 1999-2000 school year. “Perhaps the frequent breaks in a
year-round calendar actually hurt academic performance,” the group
suggests in a posting of scores on its Website
The Phoenix Gazette, EDITORIALS, Friday May 3, 1991
"Year-round fraud". "There is no evidence that indicates
there's any difference in achievement between year-round and traditional
schools," said Tom Payne, who is in charge of year-round education
for the California Department of Education." The
moral of the story is that the year-round school, like so many so-called
education reforms, is like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the
Titanic. The ship is still sinking. However, before attributing any
causal factor to the calendar schedule, one would have to eliminate all
other influences on student achievement such as teacher ability, teaching
plans, time on task, books, homework assigned, homework completed,
parental support etc"
Studies that purport the benefits of year-round school have also been
called into question by several researchers.
John Blaine, a Worthington, Ohio teacher who at first thought YRS
was a good idea later changed his mind.
After studying the issue under the supervision of an OSU professor,
he found that many studies of year-round education were inconclusive,
confusing and poorly designed. He summarized his findings in a report to
the Worthington Board of Education.
Reports Cited by NAYRE are Disputed
Many grassroots groups opposed to YRS have established websites that they continue to maintain long after the issue has been decided in their community in an effort to help other groups find information and seek advice. One such website is http://www.geocities.com/weswalker99/. This website details the efforts of University of Auburn professors in defeating the initiative in their local public schools. A specific article, "Year-Round Schools and Academics" by Robert Rosenfeld, analyzes the reports listed on the NAYRE website at that time. Each report was found to have faults in data collection, analysis or lack of follow-up reporting. Below is a summary of his findings:
Improved first year results are expected and
should be discounted due to increased
energy put into the program. High amounts of public and
administrative focus can cause many extraneous improvements that are
not directly related to the calendar.
Follow-up studies were not done, and in fact many
districts changed back to traditional calendar later and this data is
not provided. Ongoing analysis does not seem to be an
objective, just conversion. (also see Summermatters.com,
Some improved results were measured to individual
school's objectives, not standardized district tests, and it is
unclear how multiple objectives were combined into one indicator. It
could have been the case that schools were better able to meet their achievement objectives due to student turnover,
regression of scores to the mean when scores are averaged, lower
overall scores and thus less demanding objectives, or other factors
not related to the YRS single-track calendar.
Some tests compare a grade or two over time.
Consequently the actual students being compared were different.
Comparisons between year round and traditional do
not factor the SES of the schools being compared or group students by
YRS is not often the singular new program or ongoing program at any one school. No control group was used to isolate the impact of just one program.
A member of a Corvallis, Oregon task force in 1993 interviewed the NAYRE Directory Top 10 Year-Round Districts in the country (the ones with the most year-round schools) contacted all 10 of the districts and spoke with the professionals who do Student Assessment. When Jo-Ann Taylor contacted the same professionals listed in the NAYRE reports, not one of the Student Assessment professionals could say that YRS improved academic achievement. A list of the professionals Taylor contacted, along with their comments and their addresses and phone numbers are available on the http://summermatters.com/history.htm. Two examples are provided here:
Dr. Robert Ryan,
Assessment and Evaluation Team Leader, (619) 293-8433 for San Diego
School District, confirmed that the methodology used in the NAYRE
report created by Dr. Alcorn was questionable and that
"achievement gains cannot predictably be expected with the
single-track year-round program."
Dr. Anna Tilton, Director of Student Assessment, (619) 425-9600 for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, confirmed that "There is nothing to show that scores are better for Year-Round Schools."
In addition, Taylor contends that the NAYRE reporting
which compares all 11 YRS in the Chula Vista District to all of the 18
traditional calendar schools in the study is flawed. She explains that the
report does not consider the many variables involved between and within
the two groups.
Research Opens Politicians Eyes
LAKELAND, FL. – A candidate for school
superintendent backed off support of a year-round calendar in elections
held in November 2000. “There is absolutely no hard-driven data that
says the balanced calendar works,” Denny Dunn told a Kiwanis Club
meeting. Dunn, assistant superintendent for human resources, said he was
originally swayed by reports provided by Charles Ballinger, executive
director of the National Association for Year-Round Education, which
claimed the calendar would help struggling students.--“Dunn
Changes Mind on Issue: He says year-round school idea needs more data,”
The Ledger, Lakeland, Nov. 4, 2000.
Additionally, most YRS programs are also open enrollment/magnet schools. As reported in Academic Achievement in Year-Round Schools, by Bradley J. McMillen, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Accountability Services (Email: email@example.com, (919) 807-3808) this fact may result in further invalidation of YRS achievement results. Mr. McMillen states that "Given that many year-round programs are magnet programs and therefore may draw students from outside of the school's normal attendance zone, the consideration of student-level covariates in studies of year-round schools is essential.
"Not only do studies of year-round education
often suffer the limitations inherent in retrospective non-experimental
research, but local decisions about where year-round calendars are
implemented and the potential effects of school choice may also produce
systematic differences between students in year-round and traditional
calendar schools and programs." He further notes that "
socioeconomic homogeneity within tracks occurs in situations where
families are allowed to choose the track in which their child will enroll,
and that differences in academic achievement between tracks are largely
accounted for by these demographic differences."
Claims by proponents that YRS reduces absenteeism does not always hold
water. In fact,
Don Patterson, a former Albuquerque, New Mexico School Board member
says "we had more absenteeism among kids on year-round schedules than
among kids on traditional schedules."
This quote from the CQ Researcher,
Year-round Schools. Do They
Improve Academic Performance. published
May 17th , 1996.
Moreover, Roxanne Staff, the former president of the Dallas Independent
School District Board of Education, notes that one of the reasons that
their systems abandoned year-round school was poor attendance by some
kids. She says,
"Families complained that their children were on different schedules.
Some parents kept older siblings home to baby-sit (younger
siblings) during intersessions "
are several Columbus Public Schools students who attend CAHS, Ft. Hayes,
and the Northeast Career Center, but whose "home" school is
Whetstone. Some of these students enjoy participating in marching band
during the fall, and theatre productions and various athletic activities
throughout the school year at Whetstone.
Currently, this is relatively easy for these students, as those
alternative high schools follow a traditional, nine-month school calendar.
If YRS is implemented at Whetstone, some of the teachers and coaches may choose to schedule more intensive band, play, or athletics practices during the three-week intersessions. Perhaps the band would practice from 8 a.m. until noon for one, two, or all three weeks instead of from 7-8:15 a.m. Perhaps play casts would rehearse from noon to 3 p.m. everyday, instead of during the evening hours. Perhaps various coaches would add practice or weight training times during the day instead of early in the morning or in the late afternoon. How would this affect those students who would be in class all day at one of the alternative high schools, but who are integral members of the band, a play, or a team? It would place them in a decidedly unfair and inferior position, when compared with their peers who would attend Whetstone on a full-time basis. Or, would this choice no
choice no longer be available to those students?
A similar problem would be faced by students who currently take coursework at
during the mornings and go to one of the career centers for additional,
more intensive coursework (which is not offered at Whetstone) in the
afternoons. Would these
students be expected to follow two different but overlapping school
calendars, thus effectively requiring them to attend school an additional
five or six weeks a year? Or,
would this choice no longer be available to them?
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was first implemented
in 1975 to guarantee free and appropriate public educational services to
all children with developmental disabilities.
[Most recent revisions were made to the IDEA in 1997.]
There are many students currently enrolled at Whetstone High School who benefit from the IDEA. Most notably are those students enrolled in the classes for the mentally handicapped, many whom come from districts outside of the CPS boundaries. (e.g. Southwestern City Schools) How can it be determined that a YRS calendar would benefit these students when absolutely no studies have been published which show any beneficial effects of YRS on students with mild, moderate, severe, or profound mental retardation or developmental disabilities? What additional childcare burdens would a YRS schedule place on the parents, families, and care providers of these students?
also shares enrollment of some students who have visual impairments with
the Ohio School for the Blind. In
this case, Whetstone provides the least restrictive educational
environment for these students, as identified on their Individual
Educational Plans (IEPs), ensuring their right to participate in the
general curriculum with their typically developing peers in regular
education classes, as well as in extracurricular and other nonacademic
activities. Not only do these students take academic and arts classes
with the general school population, their participation at Whetstone
enables them to meet and make friends with their typically developing
peers. The residential and
academic program at the Ohio School for the Blind operates on a
traditional nine-month school calendar.
What options would be available to those visually impaired students
who rely on Whetstone to provide them with perhaps their only opportunity
to learn and interact with typically developing peers?
Would this choice be removed for these students?
There are many CPS students living in Whetstone's catchments area who have special needs and for whom Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) are written each year. These students have various learning, language, behavioral, and other disabilities that challenge them, but which they strive to overcome on a daily basis at home, in the community, and at school. For the most part, these students participate fully in the academic program at Whetstone, and many participate as well in extracurricular athletic programs. For these students, Whetstone is their "neighborhood" school and plays an important part in helping them to be successful in all aspects of their daily lives.
some of these students, especially those who have Attention Deficit
Disorder or other specific learning disabilities, a schedule, such as that
provided by the YRS proposal, would disrupt their learning to such an
extent that they would cease to be successful students at Whetstone.
complain about loss of skill and learning over a 10 or 11-week summer
even complain about learning loss evidenced over the shorter winter and
spring breaks. Yet, a YRS
calendar would add a fourth, three-week break period and would lengthen
the two traditionally shorter breaks (winter and spring) to three weeks
each. If teachers see skill
loss over the traditional one-week spring break, why would they want to
lengthen that break by two weeks and add a fourth break to the mix?
If skills are lost over a 10-11 week summer break, would those
skills not be lost to a similar extent over a six-week break in the
summer? It is unfair to
assume that these students with special needs would want to enroll in
supplemental classes during intersessions, when most of them need periodic
breaks from school to prevent overload, stress, and burn-out, and to
ensure continuing educational success.
Would these students be forced to enroll at other high schools in
the district, when they have already invested significant amounts of time
and effort into their work and activities at Whetstone?
What choice does this offer these students?
References and Resources
Mary Anne Ledinsky, Director of Schools
Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
2879 Johnstown Road
Columbus, Ohio 43219
many public institutions, there are problems in CPS and at WHS.
In this particular case, WHS administrators have seized upon these
problems to propose radical change.
They are suggesting that our children do not need to be out
enjoying their youth for a full summer or to earn needed money for the
rest of the school year or for college. The WHS administrators beg the
question that there might even be summer learning GAIN.
Summer offers unique opportunities for children to participate in a
variety of activities ranging from educational summer camps, band camps,
scouting camps, sailing camps, and family travel.
They suggest that our children can only learn in a classroom.
But as Dr. Leo Wisenbender, of the Los Angeles Unified Program and Evaluation Branch, points out in1994 "it is absurd to suggest that children aren’t learning during the summer. It’s a different type of learning, which simply is not tested. Furthermore, a Capitol Resource Backgrounder entitled The Never-ending School: An analysis of Year-round Education in California showed that " reading scores for middle class students tended to increase."
One study often cited by YRS proponents even concludes that children who have the opportunity to do things during the summer improve on tests of some subjects and return better off than when they left in the spring. Those children who do not have these advantages either show no improvement or, in some cases, loss. (Cooper, H. et al. 1996. The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and meta-Analytic Review. Review of Education Research. Fall. 66:3:227-268.) htttp://www.auburn.edu/~enebasa/html/pospaper.pp.html
proposal for year-round school at Whetstone High School puts forth a start
date of July 20. Temperatures
in Columbus tend to peak in late July and August, with temperatures
typically reaching the high 80s to low 90s by early afternoon on many
days. This also tends to be the most humid time of the year.
school building itself is not air-conditioned.
The use of large, industrial-sized fans placed in hallways, with
smaller fans placed in classrooms, has been proposed to help mitigate the
effects of summer heat in the building.
Most classrooms have operable windows.
The gymnasium, auditorium, locker rooms, weight room, band room,
and MH classrooms do not. Some
classrooms are located on the second floor of the building.
In all probability, the roof is a ballasted black single-ply
membrane roofing system. This
type of roofing system absorbs and transmits to the interior space (i.e.,
classrooms) the maximum radiant solar energy (i.e., heat) of most types of
commercial roofing systems typically used on school buildings.
While most classroom windows do open, air movement through classrooms will occur only by opening classroom doors or using fans. Opening windows causes room temperatures to reach outside air temperatures more quickly. As late mornings and early afternoons are reached, temperatures in classrooms will begin to peak. Effects on classrooms on the west side of the building will be worse, especially during the afternoons, when that side of the building will face the sun. However, the worst effects will be felt in those classrooms with a southern exposure, due to their all day exposure to the effects of solar radiation. Temperatures in the gymnasium will be especially stifling, as it sits on the south and west corner of the building, and has inoperable skylights. It is reasonable to predict that the air temperatures in most classrooms will be in the mid-to-high 80s much of the time.
do not change ambient air temperature.
The cooling effect of fans is a perceived effect, caused by the
evaporation of perspiration from the skin.
The closer a person sits to an operating fan, the cooler the
perceived temperature will be. Those
seated farthest from a fan will perceive little to no cooling effect.
The actual room air temperature remains the same, whether a fan is
on or off.
review of the literature reveals the following:
and Segil reported that women tend to prefer slightly higher
temperatures than those preferred by men.
Adults over 40 years of age tend to prefer temperatures
slightly higher than those preferred by younger people.
The implications here are that older, female teachers at
Whetstone would likely be the most comfortable in the current, unair-conditioned
teaching and learning environment, while the students would be the
effects of even moderately elevated temperatures on students cause
undue physical stress and impede, slow, and impair learning.
Harmer's study revealed that reading and math abilities in
children were consistently and adversely affected by temperatures over
74°F. Other studies
cited by researchers at Cornell University indicated decreased
performance in testing situations where temperatures exceeded 78°F,
with best results noted at 70-72°F.
temperatures and humidity deteriorate student achievement and task
performance and decrease attention spans.
Cooler temperatures are associated with increased comfort and
To maximize student learning within the classroom environment:
The temperature must be continuously varied, but always kept between 65°F and 75°F.
The humidity level must be kept low at all times.
Optimal temperatures for different school spaces must be recognized:
temperatures and humidity deteriorate student achievement and task
performance and decrease attention spans.
Cooler temperatures are associated with increased comfort and
To maximize student learning within the classroom environment:
The temperature must be continuously varied, but always kept between 65°F and 75°F.
humidity level must be kept low at all times.
Optimal temperatures for different school spaces must be recognized:
Locker rooms: 65-68°F
The adverse effects of elevated temperatures on teachers and students include:
increased stress-related factors on both groups;
increased fatigue factors on both groups;
increased levels of frustration on both groups;
decreased levels of tolerance on both groups;
decreased learning and performance of students;
increased health-related risks, especially to those individuals with cardiac disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases, allergies, seizure disorders, etc.
Will dress codes be adjusted to accommodate the comfort levels of students teachers, and other Whetstone staff (especially the poor cafeteria workers)?
Along with temperature, sound is one of the three key environmental conditions that staff and students notice most often in classrooms. (The other condition is lighting.) Since speech is a key element of effective teaching, poor acoustics can have a large negative effect on learning. Poor acoustics generates reverberation and background noise in a learning space.
Noise is usually defined as "unwanted sound." Background noise refers to any auditory disturbance within a room that interferes with what a listener wants to hear. Noise is not only annoying and distracting, it is also harmful to everyone involved in the educational process. It has negative effects on teachers, whose voices fatigue while they attempt to speak over the noise, on children with hearing difficulties, on persons with limited English proficiency and those who must listen to them, and on persons with various learning and speech/language disabilities. In a typical classroom at any given time, approximately 15% to 18% of all students (ages 6 to 19 years) will have some degree of hearing impairment (either known or not). This
the different temporary and/or permanent forms of conductive hearing loss
(e.g., damage to the ear structure caused by repeated ear infections,
acute or chronic forms of ear infections, birth efects, etc.), as well as
permanent forms of sensor neural hearing loss (including loss from birth,
loss due to illness or medications, loss due to aging, loss caused by
excessive noise exposure, etc.).
Moderate noise is more insidious than excessive noise, because its effects can also have an adverse impact on learning without anyone being aware of or recognizing that impact or those effects. Students may misunderstand a key word or two -- just enough to miss the point or to get the homework assignment wrong. Students may fatigue from the strain of listening in a noisy environment and stop listening. Teachers are likely to be exhausted after a day of speaking with raised voices and repeating spoken material, repeating directions, repeating answers to questions, etc.
addition to inattentiveness and exhaustion, exposure to constant,
long-term levels of even moderate noise has other negative physiological
and psychological effects, including increased levels of frustration and
decreased tolerance, increased blood pressure and heart rate, increased
occurrences of headaches (including migraines), and other typical
generated outside a school building include street traffic, air traffic,
construction noise, outdoor equipment (e.g., mowers), weather (e.g., wind,
rain), etc. Noises generated
within the school but outside the classroom can come from several sources,
including fans or pumps in heating and ventilation systems, plumbing,
workshop, craft or music rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, adjacent
classrooms, slamming doors, and hallways.
Noises generated within the unoccupied classroom space include the
hum produced by faulty fluorescent light ballasts, fans in wall-mounted
ventilation systems, monitors and fans in computer CPUs, and the resulting
echoes and reverberation effects as the sound waves from these noise
sources bounce around the hard surfaces within the room.
Noises generated within an occupied classroom include additional
human-generated noises--shuffling feet and papers, coughing, rustling of
clothes, scraping of chair legs across tile floors, dropping of pencils or
books on the floor, talking, etc.--in addition to the hums and
reverberations previously mentioned.
architects, environmental engineers, and acoustical designers select
construction materials to optimize the acoustical characteristics of a
school building, they recommend all of the following:
installation of insulation in all walls, with acoustical insulation
used within common classroom walls, well sealed classroom doors, no glass
in walls common to hallways, small laminated glass panels only in doors
common to hallways, carpeted hallways, insulated double pane windows, and
the use of (padded) acoustical liners inside heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning ductwork to reduce airborne mechanical noise (such as,
vibration, squealing motor/ fan noise, etc.).
While Whetstone High School does have newly installed double paned
windows, the building itself has none of the other recommended features
and is a noisy building. The
potential benefit of the new windows is negated by their need to be open
during the summer months under the YRS proposal.
When architects, environmental engineers, and acoustical designers select construction materials to optimize the acoustical characteristics of a classroom, they recommend a combination of the following: suspended high-absorptive ceiling panels, acoustical wall panels, thick carpeting on specialized foam padding, and/or curtains or thick draperies over windows. All openings in the walls, floors, and ceilings must be well sealed with acoustical caulking material to further prevent the transmission of noise into the classroom space.
typical classroom at Whetstone High School has none of these features.
In fact, a typical Whetstone classroom represents the worst type of
acoustical design, as the tile floors, concrete block walls, and glass
windows all provide hard, reflective surfaces, which causes increased
reverberation of sound, and classroom windows are open during the warmer
months of the year. All classrooms at Whetstone are noisy learning
In a typical, quiet classroom environment, studies show that students with normal hearing who are seated within 6 feet of the teacher (i.e., the first row of seats) hear about 90% of what the teacher says, while those students seated 24 feet from the teacher (i.e., typically the last row of seats) hear only 40% of what the teacher says. Students with hearing loss, central auditory processing disorders, attention deficit, and other learning disabilities hear significantly less than their peers whose hearing is within normal limits. One study found that students with normal hearing, in a classroom with above-average acoustic design, understood 71% of what the teacher said. However, hearing impaired students in the same classroom could understand only 41% of what the teacher said. In a classroom with poor acoustical design, when the effects of external noises, internal noises, and classroom noises are added to the acoustical environment, those students seated in the back of the room are unable to hear most of what the teacher says, if they are able to hear anything at all. In fact, students seated anywhere but directly in front of the teacher will difficulty hearing what is said. Other studies show that, in classrooms with hard surfaces, the percentage of voice consonants (i.e., the components of speech that carry the most meaning) lost in the echoes (i.e., reverberation) of the classroom was between 15% and 50%. The results are usually students who fall asleep, misbehave, or stop trying to listen and pay attention, because they cannot hear. Proper design can help schools avoid acoustical problems. Fixing the problems may improve academic performance and teacher morale and lead to fewer dropouts and disciplinary problems, especially among marginal students.
is also known that noise generates more noise.
That is, the poorer the acoustics and the noisier the environment,
the louder and noisier the students will become--and the louder the
teacher must be to be heard over the noise.
mitigate the effects of summer heat in the building, the use of large,
industrial-sized fans placed in hallways and small fans placed in
classrooms has been proposed for Whetstone.
What will be done to mitigate the effects of all this additional
noise in the building and the classrooms so someone has a chance to hear
something of meaning? If
nothing is done, no one will be able to hear anything.
has shown that one effective way to produce change in students' listening
behaviors and academic achievement has been through the use of FM
sound-field amplification. A
sound-field amplification system operates like a wireless public-address
system and can be installed easily in less than five minutes.
The teacher wears a microphone that is attached to a small FM
wireless transmitter and sends a radio signal to receivers built into
several speakers around the room. The
amplifier is set, and the loudspeakers are positioned to create a positive
signal-noise ratio or approximately +15 decibels in all listening areas of
the classroom. This means
that the signal (i.e., the teacher's spoken message) is always louder than
the other noises generated in, and out of, the classroom.
Acoustically speaking, this type of system puts every student in
the front row.
YRS is seriously considered for Whetstone High School, all or some of the
following must occur:
quiet air conditioning system for the entire building must be
installed. Window air
conditioners in individual classrooms MUST NOT BE USED.
classroom spaces must be evaluated individually to determine exactly
what mix of acoustic treatments would be best for the use of the
acoustic treatments include acoustic ceiling tiles, acoustic ceiling
and wall panels, acoustic barriers around computers, padded
carpeting, and/or window coverings. In addition, cracks around doors
to hallways should be sealed and ventilation noises in individual
classrooms should be treated.
barriers should be fastened to the original ceiling and allowed to
hang down to the suspended ceiling panels, to reduce the noise
traveling between classrooms via suspended ceiling systems.
hallway areas must be carpeted.
sound-field amplification systems must be installed--and used--in all
All teachers must receive in-service training on the need, and methods, to most effectively control human-generated noise in occupied classroom spaces.
third area of concern related to the issue of YRS at Whetstone High School
is the effects of air quality on the health of teachers and learners in
the classrooms and the building itself, especially during late July and
August. Along with high
temperatures in Columbus, Ohio, go high levels of relative humidity.
This occasionally leads to days when officials declare smog and
ozone "alerts." Officials
recommend that citizens engage in no unnecessary outdoor activities, stay
inside, keep their windows closed to prevent airborne contaminants from
entering, and using their air conditioners to help filter out those
Unfortunately, at Whetstone, there is no air conditioning, only windows that opens. It has been suggested that fans could be placed strategically in classrooms and throughout the building in an effort to reduce sweltering air temperatures. While fans do move air, they also fully and indiscriminately move particulate matter in that air. Pollutants will enter the building through open windows and doors, and then will be distributed through the learning spaces and the building by the fans. Of concern, in addition to dangerous levels of ozone and smog entering the building, is the free invasion of learning spaces by various allergens (e.g., ragweed pollens), which flourish in the late summer months in our city.
An additional area of concern is the rampant growth of molds and mildew in warm, humid spaces in buildings. Whetstone would be a prime candidate as a breeding ground for these fungal contaminants, which are recently shown to cause significant health risks.
remarkably increased occurrences of respiratory disease, particularly
asthma, among children and young adults, and with increasing numbers of
our population becoming sensitive to airborne pollutants and allergens, it
seems particularly responsible to place vulnerable learners and teachers
in a learning environment without regard to this aspect of their physical
alleviate the health risks inherent in hot, humid climates, ASHRAE
recommends the use of air conditioning or dehumidification in school
buildings to prevent the growth of molds and mildew.
University researches define indoor air pollutants as the "particles
or gases that occur in the air inside buildings that adversely affect the
health of their occupants." ASHRAE
defines acceptable indoor air quality as "air in which there are no
known contaminants at harmful concentrations as determined by cognizant
authorities and with which a substantial majority (80% or more) of the
people exposed do not express dissatisfaction."
Primary causal agents of allergic asthma include dust, animal proteins (e.g.,
dead skin cells, dander, cockroach and rodent feces, etc.), fungal spores, pollens, molds, and dust mites. 37% of the population is allergic to mice. The numbers of dust mites, a primary cause of allergic responses, increase with increased humidity and increased temperature. Mites cannot survive at relative humidity levels below 50%. Indoor air temperatures of 70°F and 50% relative humidity or less will control mites. At 80°F, relative humidity has to be less than 40% to prevent mite growth. Mite colonies thrive in the spring, summer, and fall months.
fungi are found to grow on ceiling tile, in ductwork, ventilation
diffusers, humidifiers, condensate trays, filters, etc., in buildings.
(Researchers have found fungi growing on everything from glass to
jet fuel.) The highest
concentrations of indoor fungi are found during the summer months.
Treatment includes filtering and keeping relative humidity at no
more than 70%. Up to 15% of
the population is allergic to fungi.
General Conclusions Regarding the Learning
In general, researchers who study the learning environment all agree that improving the physical learning facility itself will lead to higher student learning and academic achievement. Specific factors to be considered include temperature, noise, lighting, and the physical space. Researchers agree that the ideal learning temperature for young adults should range between 68°F and 74°F at 30 inches from the floor, if the relative humidity is kept between 30-60%. If the humidity level rises above 70%, it impairs human performance. Ambient noise levels should be minimized to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and to facilitate the students' ability to hear the teacher during instruction.
Michael D. Jones, Superior Court Judge in California writes in a letter to Members of the Board
Paradise Valley School District Number 69 in Phoenix, Arizona that he is concerned that "any proposal to reduce the number of days in the traditional summer vacation will reduce the amount of time that non-custodial parents will spend with their children." He goes on to say that "it causes parents to file more post- decree modification actions in our courts. Most parents can agree on visitation schedule modifications; however, many are not capable of agreement (on any issue) and require court intervention. We really don't need any more cases filed than are necessary. Our court resources are already stretched to maximum capacity." In essence, the YRS change may lead to addition legal bills for parents to re-work custodial issues.
several parents in the WHS school area have expressed similar concerns.
A Decatur Daily article on the cost of year-round schools notes that there is no fixed formula for the cost of converting to a YRS. However, administrators at schools that have failed and succeeded agree that it's going to cost more money, but disagree on the worth of the change. The Orange County public schools in Orlando Florida showed that "..after six years, the system spent $232 more per student per year on a single-track, year-round calendar.' The mult-track calendar implemented there to solve overcrowding saved the system $346 per student compared to the traditional calendar. (After seeing no improvement in test scores and an increase in cost) the school officials could not justify keeping it, said Dianne Locker, senior administrator for special projects. (Diane Locker is a former president of the National Association For Year-Round Education.)
The Exploratory Committee has said they will not know
the cost of implementing the balanced calendar until at least after the
first year of operation. Some studies and reports suggest that a 45-15
single track school will increase annual operating costs by 10-50% over
the conventional calendar. This would mean an excess annual price tag of
$750,000 to $3,750,000 annually.
Locally, the Second Avenue proposal for YRS noted at least a $500,000 one time cost for air conditioning. Second Avenue is a small school compared with WHS. How much would Whetstone cost to air-condition? Other cost estimates suggest an annual cost of over $70,000.Other testimony on cost comes from Quinn Rasberry in her 1992 report, "Year-round Schools May Not Be The Answer." She says, "year-round schools are not cost -effective to operate unless the student population substantially exceeds traditional school capacity.... there are increased expenses for air- conditioning, maintenance and staff salaries." It is further noted by L. Rogers that year-round school offers a moderate savings in building and maintenance costs, but an increase in personnel salaries and cooling costs. His comments are from a 1993 article, "The pros and cons of year-round education at the elementary school level." (Unpublished thesis.)
due to increased absenteesm
part of the cost factor to consider comes due to absences.
Since school funding in many schools is tied to enrollment,
A 1994 report, ERS report # 7112
Report on single-track year-round education in San Diego Unified School
District noted that there were more student absences and it result in
an $800,000 loss in funding compared with the $428,000 loss in the
These and other excerpts are available at http://www.auburn.edu/~enebasa/html/resanbi.pp.html
Community impact is probably the most difficult component to measure and define. However, it is obvious that Whetstone under an alternative calendar would effectively be an alternative school and the surrounding community would lose their community-based school. As the Exploratory Committee stated, "If you don't like the modified calendar, you can opt out. But you will not be guaranteed enrollment at any specific school, you will lottery in if possible according the normal process. "
This is not fair to students in the middle of their high school careers who have strong emotional ties to their school and friends and may opt to stay at a YRS-WHS only for those reasons. Overtime, these reasons will change the student's perception that school is for social benefit and not for education benefit.
Equally obvious is that community businesses and residents that rely on students as a summer labor pool. WHS students and their families are also customers to local seasonal businesses that could be adversely affected. That is illustrated by a recent letter to the editor by Newt Jones, the new owner of the Olympic Swim Club, who says he has many Whetstone students he relies on to be lifeguards and swim instructors, both volunteer and paid employees, who could not work during a year-round school. The lack of local customers could effectively close his business.
Many elderly residents rely on high school age youths to mow lawns and clean yards in the summer. Many students do this for neighbors, and some on a larger scale, and most receive at least "pocket" money for their service. This is a learning experience of responsibility, money management and interaction with adults that is vital to growing into adults.
Less visible are the devastating effects the balanced calendar could have on the many support organizations that serve as an underpinning for the community fabric. Religious organization camps and the Boy Scouts camps schedule events that fit into the larger national summer schedule. Often this is in August, especially for Habitat for Humanity (North Broadway United Methodist Church youth group. Summer, 2001). Many youth sports leagues and activities try to end by the end of July so that families can go on vacation in August. Parents and students would be forced to make an ugly decision, vacation or participation. Many students participate in the Ohio State Fair exhibits and competitions, and also work there. The fair always runs in August and the state of Ohio is not going to change that schedule. It is possible that many youth services such as volunteers at the library and at city park recreation centers, for instance, could see reduced participation.
improve student achievement and attendance. For the most part, each school's initiative came from a "best practices" principal, who was described as innovative, dedicated, dynamic, and committed to long-term involvement with their schools. These individuals
their "reform" ideas to their staff, students, and parents, who
worked together to successfully implement the changes in their schools.
While not every school implemented every one of these innovations,
the combinations they chose have all resulted in markedly increased
student academic achievement, test scores, attendance, college admissions,
parental involvement, and staff morale and investment.
Some of these programs (e.g., school improvement committees,
mandatory student community service, mandatory student internships, etc.)
are underway in CPS high schools, but are not part of a more systematic,
comprehensive plan at any one high school.
In addition, it should be noted that none of these outstanding
schools of excellence have adopted a balanced calendar (YRS) plan.
Some of the
practices used in setting high academic standards and achievement are:
"dumbed down" courses and curricula and "upping the
ante" regarding curriculum choices -- usually exceeding local
district and state-mandated minimum coursework requirements for
graduation (e.g., eliminating all math courses easier than algebra at
"slow learners" [sic] to the same material as gifted
advanced placement (AP) offerings--this was done at every school
the "international baccalaureate" (IB) program;
interim progress reports every three weeks, to identify at risk
"study tables" by every athletic coach for every team
Reinforcing academic excellence, through such activities as "senior appreciation night."
parents to sign contracts and promising to help their children with
homework, projects, follow-up to missed assignments, etc.--on a daily
basis. In one school, if
parents did not sign the contract, the student did not receive next
year's course listings for scheduling.
all parents to volunteer at the school (a minimum of 30 hours per
year, at one school).
Facilitating improved communication between teachers and parents, by:
daily use of the school's website by teachers to list daily course
assignments, by attendance offices to list not only daily school
attendance but also individual class attendance (including late entry
to classes), by administrators to list the school calendar and all
calendar or scheduling changes, etc.;|
|Utilizing e-mail by teachers to contact parents, by parents to
contact teachers, and by students (and their parents) to check on
voice mail systems so parents could more readily contact individual
and town meetings to seek, encourage, and reinforce parent input in
all matters pertaining to the school--both positive and negative;
parental power in the operation of the school itself, by encouraging
participation on committees overseeing school improvement, curriculum,
scheduling, discipline, attendance, teacher training, etc.
out "customer satisfaction surveys" to families of all
students to volunteer and perform community service.
Some schools offer Wednesday afternoons for this activity.
community involvement, grants, and aid by forming business
partnerships and increasing community leaders' and local business
owners' involvement in the schools through volunteerism, utilizing
resources, providing student internships, etc.
better student attendance by implementing "no tolerance"
policies, such as:• hiring
site-based truancy officers (one for each school);
truant students and parents of truants;
reward systems for good attendance.
and celebrating only diversity, self-esteem, and individual talents of
technology more effectively for instruction of students, by
incorporating use of the web into lesson plans for all classes;
parent communication (see above);
Improved follow-up for ill students (to check on daily assignments, projects, etc.).
Making the school
building itself a more welcoming and inclusive environment by:
Providing options for parents and adults in the community to access the school's resources regarding college and career options;
Opening the school's fitness facilities to the public;
Removing the counter (a physical and psychological barrier) in the school office.
events, meetings, conferences, etc., at times and locations convenient
for parents and to accommodate working parents' schedules:
and celebrating the arts (visual and performing), encouraging all
students to participate in all aspects of the arts in their school,
and expanding cultural offerings.
teacher mentoring of every student, by assigning about 20 students to
each teacher, and requiring weekly meetings between each student and
his or her faculty advisor. Some
schools added an extra period to the day for this, while others
dedicated Wednesday afternoons to this activity (as well as for
community service, tutoring, etc.).
MANDATORY tutoring for every student, either:
risk students usually receive tutoring for at least one hour everyday.
several reasons for giving serious attention to the syllabus. A rigorous
syllabus enhances student learning by improving the way we teach our
courses. " (The Humble Syllabus as Creative Catalyst by Mike Strada,
West Liberty State College)
highlights are bulleted below, with most not being employed by the WHS
· Schools in the Ontario School system were given the option of developing and implementing alternative school-year calendars.
· To be considered, the schools had to demonstrate a "high level" of support from teachers, parents, and students. The District required 80% parental support. One of the two schools that opted for YRS even required a 100% survey return rate on surveys asking for parent's opinions about if they supported YRS. The report notes that 100% survey return rate was achieved through the intensive efforts of a group of supportive parents.
· A new calendar could not add substantially to a schools operating cost, so only schools with air conditioning were considered.
· Busing costs could not increase substantially.
· No teacher would be forced in a modified-calendar school or on a modified schedule.
Only two schools achieved the required support. And in each case, notes the report, the impetus for calendar change had come from parents. It should be noted that there are few parents, if any, clamoring for year-round school at Whetstone. Until this issue surfaced in May, YRS was unfamiliar to most WHS students. Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of the parents (estimates of 50 to 70 at both May parent meetings) were surveyed during the two parent meetings. Some surveys, parents report, were not even collected.
of the schools implemented a modified or balanced calendar while also
maintaining a conventional school calendar.
The other school choose to start school two weeks early and have a
week break in October and in May, in addition to the traditional breaks.
Neither of these options resemble what WHS was pushing for, nor
were options offered or encouraged.
appears that there were two different surreys. Several parents remember the only way to express your
disapproval of the proposal was to answer that you would remove your
student from WHS if it went to YRS. Another
parent who's survey wasn't collected clearly shows no such question.
(See sample survey and letter to school board member from a local
resident, who says he hasn't made up his mind about YRS)
two Ontario schools also used a different leadership model in their
process. They used a project leader who disseminated information and
answered questions at public information meetings.
The report explains "The
presence of the project leader permitted principals to remain relatively
neutral and facilitate a collaborative, exploratory process. (We have found elsewhere, the authors say, that when
principals must respond to questions and correct misinformation about YRS,
they are perceived to be advocates, pushing for a particular outcome
[Shields & Larocque, 1997; Shields & Osberg, 2000].)" At Whetstone's three public/parent meetings, the intent of
the principal and his staff was clear --- to persuade parents and the
community to his point of view.
There was no project leader and little parental leadership on the
report goes on to say that each school council spent time educating
teachers and parents and requesting input.
Little time has been spent on educating parents in the WHS
fact, we suggest that at the risk of being criticized for sounding our own
horn, we can't help but point
out one little bit of irony: that
this parent opposition group has done more to educate parents and the
community than WHS administration has.
In fact, we feel our involvement is warranted and required. The same authors of "Choice and Voice in School Calendar Reform" cite the following: " Several researchers emphasize the need to increase parents' involvement in decision making. Fullan (1999) claims that 'in too many cases, parents and the community are actually outsiders" (p 61) . Coleman (1998) asserts that ' collaboration with parents in building active communities of learners' is the 'most important task facing the school in the immediate future.' " Very important in the report is the citation that Fullan finds that "success also improves when decision-makers actively purse, and remain accountable for, parental involvement." Also of significance is that the journal article points out that that several researchers (Fullan, 1999); Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998 and Pounder, 1998) emphasize the parents, teachers, and educational leaders " must work collaboratively if reform is to be successful.
reports discussion suggests that "Successful
change requires extensive communication, consultation, and planning.
Offering flexible arrangements and choice may also enhance its
acceptability.....Participants were pleased that each school council had
been permitted to design its own calendar rather than having to adopt a
district imposed modification.
The district was also careful to build adequate support for the
change by setting a very high threshold (80%) for approval..."
The website, "DreamServers," posts a site
for "Suffolk [County, Virginia] Parents for a Traditional School
Year." On this site is
an on-going e-mail discussion regarding the results of a recent change in
the local traditional school calendar to that of a year-round format.
It is apparent that this issue has split this community apart,
all the way to the PTA organization, in which ballot-stuffing and other
voting irregularities caused a recent (May 2001) PTA election to be
declared null and void, necessitating a second election to be held, under
closer scrutiny. Parents on this site express sorrow and dismay in their
discussion of this issue. It
can be concluded that these are parents who care about their children,
their families, and their schools.
One father stated that he is selling
his house so his children do not have to worry about losing school
time during court-mandated visitations with their non-custodial mother,
who lives out of the district.
[This site may be found at: http://books.dreambook.com/jhartline/yrs.htm]
Claims of racism and elitism have already filtered into the public discussion of year-round schools at Whetstone, as noted in some recent letters to the editor.
Employers will choose the
student who can work the entire summer over those that must cut short
their employment. The net result will be that year round school students
may not be offered many jobs. This
income from summer jobs is what many teenagers rely on to fund their
school year activities such as clothes, movies, cars, and to put aside for
their college education.
Employers will choose the
student who can work the entire summer over those that must cut short
their employment. The result
is that some parents may pick up this additional cost.
Those that cannot afford it won't and their children may be left to
wander the streets. Moreover, many parents have told us that the bulk of
their students' income comes during a full summer vacation.
What employer would want to
hire kids for 40 hours/week for just 3 weeks?
No company that is accountable to stockholders can afford to train
a new hire for 1-2 weeks, for only 3 weeks employment. One parent's
view as noted in the Personal Position statements section, notes that his
senior student recently required a 3-week training program in order to
gain experience in the summer working in a manufacturing environment.
The parent concludes that this job would not be available to
someone with only 6 weeks of work time.
WHS staff has already stated that the student/employee will forget
their training once they return to WHS during the next school period and
have to be retrained by the employer again during the next intercession,
and then the next, and the next…. How could any company afford to hire
YRS students for a just a 3 week intersession or a shortened summer break
of just 6 weeks. The summer period will offer no greater incentive to
addition to camps, the Ohio State Fair could be lost opportunity for some.
Many students visit the fair not only for the obvious food and fun,
but to participate in exhibit competitions.
Many residents in the area have expressed concerns to us and in letters to the editor that YRS is a bad idea for Clintonville and the surrounding area. Parents look for a conventional school calendar will move elsewhere. Parents will loose their choice of a neighborhood school under the proposal and if they don't move, could well send their children to private or parochial schools. Typically, these would be high achieving students whose flight could have a negative impact of the overall performance at WHS.
of various research studies indicate the potential for segregation across
socioeconomic, ethnic, and racial lines between single and multi-track
programs. A review of
available reports indicates that students in single track, year-round
schools show higher academic achievement and higher test scores on the SAT
than those in multi-track programs. Within
the multi-track system itself, those students whose tracks provide a 5-6
week summer break show greater achievement than those whose track offers a
5-6 week break in the winter. Interestingly,
the majority of those students enrolled in the tracks offering a long
summer break tend to come from families in higher socioeconomic brackets
and have parents who are highly educated.
The majority of those students enrolled in the tracks offering a
long winter break (i.e., "off-year") tend to come from families
in the lowest socioeconomic brackets, have less educated parents, and tend
to represent higher percentages of racial and ethnic minorities (including
Hispanics, African Americans, non-English speaking groups, etc.).
In addition, the Mitchell study found that more highly educated and experienced teachers work during the YRS track offering a longer summer break, while the least educated and experienced teachers work during the track offering the less desirable break schedule.A review of available reports indicates that students whose parents represent higher socioeconomic groups and who are more highly educated more often successfully fight year-round school proposals and represent fewer students enrolled in year-round schools (i.e., are more often enrolled in schools following a traditional school year calendar), while students
whose parents represent lower socioeconomic groups and who are less educated more often are
enrolled in year-round school programs. Naylor reported that, "Year-round schools are predominantly in disadvantaged communities in many American districts. . . . The evidence appears to be that year-round schools are politically unacceptable in wealthier areas, and that arguments for educational gains are not taken seriously by the vast majority of private
Studies comparing student academic achievement between year-round school programs and those following more traditional school year calendars show no statistically significant differences between the two calendars. This was confirmed by an exhaustive, two-year study commission by the North Carolina Department of Education. The North Carolina study did reveal that differences occur when the quality of instructional time is increased, not when the quantity of instructional time is increased. A second study, cited by Newland, found that "the net effect of summer vacation [on learning loss] was close to zero. . . . Concepts, researching skills, math concepts, grammar, and similar things . . . are relatively unaffected by the summer break."
The Mitchell study concludes that, "The driving force behind. . .demographic, resource, and achievement segregation. . . is parental choice. . . . Parental choice determines location of residence and enrollment on a particular attendance track. In most districts, . . . the opportunity to exert choice within the YRE school is determined by a sign-up queue. Spaces are allotted in the order in which they are requested so that some tracks fill before others due to the popularity of the vacation schedule of a given track on programs and services offered. Preferred attendance track openings are scarce commodities, creating competitive access to them."
We believe this will demonstrate to the community at
large that we can "all play on the same playground"; it will
further demonstrate a commitment to the goal of raising hope, trust, and
confidence in Columbus Public Schools.
Notwithstanding, many authors and members of this group have
valuable business experience that could be of benefit to the effort.
Check out these other Web sites built by individuals or grassroots groups around the nation in opposition to school calendar change and in support of the traditional school year.
This comprehensive web site was compiled by an Arizona family that led grassroots efforts against a year-round calendar in their community. It is a must-read for anyone studying the year-round school issue. It posts and links to many important studies.
grassroots group in Ohio
(Mark Widder's web page-Prarie Grove, Ark.)
Toledo, Ohio Parents against a Balanced Calendar
grassroots group in Tracy, Calif.
(Williamson County ,Tenn., "School for All Seasons" Information Web Site)
(Citizens Against Year Round Education - Polk County, Fla.)
Thomasville, Ga. web site