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Demand Answers

Demand documentation of claims

     Before your school district considers piloting or implementing year-round school, or any kind of calendar reform, make sure it has done an in-depth study of the pros and cons.
    Failure to have  answers to the following list of questions will come at great financial costs to the district and  put children at risk academically.  Copy this list of questions and present it to  calendar change proponents and  school district decision makers  (school board, school calendar committee, principal, superintendent). Also, send a list to the education reporters at your local newspaper or television stations.
    Demand answers with documentation to back up those replies.
    
This list  is adapted from one that appears in "Year-Round Education: Lessons Learned The Hard Way."
   

     School Calendar Change: 
These Questions Need Answers

Academics
   
Will year-round schools improve achievement?

Test Scores
   
Is there solid evidence that year-round education significantly increases SAT and other standardized test scores?

Curriculum
   
Will the curriculum need modification due to shorter instructional periods and, if so, what will be the costs of restructuring it?

Training
   
How will professional development be addressed?

Needs Met
   
Does year-round education adequately meet the educational needs of all students: gifted, average, disadvantaged, special needs, etc.?

Absenteeism
   
Do year-round schools experience a higher absentee rate than traditional schools, rates that can impact learning as well as state funding to schools that is based on average daily attendance?

Activities
   
What problems will a year-round calendar present for extra-curricular activities--sports, clubs, school plays, chorus and band programs, etc.?

Valid Research
   
Do studies that claim academic improvement and cost savings from calendar reforms use valid data comparisons or are they advocacy research (finding what you are looking for)?

Education Inequities
   
How will schools prevent inequities that are characteristic of a multi-track year-round calendar? Will classes and electives be offered on all tracks without resorting to a "rainbow" class that compromises education quality and consistency?

Morale
   
Will school morale and school spirit be affected by the switch to a year-round calendar or a longer school year?

Evaluations
   
How will the school district evaluate academic and cost benefits of the school calendar reform, and will the methodology (control groups, standardized test data, similar socio-economic groups) stand up to public scrutiny?  Will evaluations be done in-house or by an independent, outside source?

Pilot Study:
   
Will pilot programs be long enough to collect sufficient data on the effectiveness of year-round schools before adding more schools?

Extra Costs
   
What are the additional costs incurred (extra staff, extended contracts, busing, air-conditioning, building modifications, maintenance, utilities, etc.) in implementing and using a year-round calendar or longer school year?

Administration
   
Will year-round schools incur additional administrative expenses, taking money away from the classroom?

Compensation
   
Will teachers work additional days without compensation? Will teachers be compensated for lost summer income?

Legislation
   
Has any state or federal legislation been passed giving incentive money to schools studying, piloting or implementing year-round schools.  If so, what types of incentive monies are available, and do they really offset the extra cost of school calendar change?

Incentive monies
   
Will  government incentive money go to the school district to use at its discretion, or will the monies go specifically to the school/schools implementing year-round school or other calendar changes?

Cost Shifting
   
Will traditional schools be short-changed due to the extra operational expenses incurred at year-round schools?

Maintenance Issues
   
When will deep-cleaning and major maintenance of schools be done?

Facilities
   
Are school facilities fully equipped with air-conditioning (school, gym, cafeteria)?  If not, how will schools deal with classroom heat during the sweltering summer months?

Propaganda
   
Have parents and teachers been given complete and accurate information to make an educated decision on whether or not they want year-round education?

Consultants
   
Will presentations include a balanced panel of speakers for and against calendar reforms?

Surveys:
   
Will surveys to measure support for calendar change by teachers and parents ask questions that accurately reflect sentiments or will they be manipulative?

Family Values
   
When the multi-track year-round calendar is used, could children in the same family possibly end up being assigned to different school calendars and/or tracks, which  would wreck havoc on family live?

Child Care
   
Will the year-round calendar or other calendar reforms with  frequent short  breaks throughout the school year create child care complications for families?

Summer Fun
   
Will year-round school interfere with traditional family summer activities (vacation Bible school, family vacations, summer sports programs, summer jobs for college-bound students, visits to relatives, swimming lessons, summer camps, recreation programs)?

Enrollment
   
What percentage of the nation's public schools use the year-round calendar or and extended school year? What percentage of the nation's private schools use the year-round calendar or extended school year? What is the rate of growth of year-round schools over the past three years?  Is there a slowdown?  If so, why? 

Business Impact
   
How will year-round schools affect community businesses, especially those that rely on summer-related revenues?