- Study at Ohio State University again finds no academic advantage for
-Chicago schools and "The Year-Round Mess"
July 23, 2004
-Study Finds Lower Test Scores in Nevada YR
July 13, 2004
-Trend Turns Toward Traditional Schedule
July 7, 2004:
Los Angeles Goal: Traditional
New: Sept. 3, 2003 - Heat Is On
Early School Start & Year-Round School
New: June 21, 2002 - See our New
TEST SCORES page
June 21, 2001, the first day of summer, was the launch date
of our website, which is dedicated to providing
information on the wide-reaching
consequences of school calendar reform.
If you have items you believe should be included in this section, please
forward the information by e-mail to: email@example.com
Last updated Dec. 27, 2005
Ohio State University Sociologist's Study Finds No Academic Benefit To YRS
Sociologist Paul von Hippel found no academic
advantage for YRS students compared to those on a traditional
calendar. The Ohio State University professor presented his findings
Aug. 11, 2007 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological
Association. His comparison of traditional and YR calendar
used reading and math test scores of kindergarten and first grade students
in 748 public schools and 244 private schools from around the
nation, using data available from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study
produced by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Von Hippel took into account
poverty and overcrowding when comparing scores of 27 year-round schools to
others, and found less than a 1 percent larger difference in the
year-round school, which is statistically insignificant. Schools should
not expect a YR calendar will boost achievement, he said. His findings
also show "year-round schools don't really solve the problem of the
summer learning setback, they simply spread it out across the year,"
ScienceDaily reported, noting that YRS students appear to learn less
than traditional calendar students throughout the rest of their school
Chicago & 'The Year-Round School Mess'
Damning evidence against the year-round calendar is
being ignored by Chicago Mayor Daley, chief policy-maker for Chicago
schools, who is prosing some 140 schools serving children of color be
placed on a multitrack calendar. See the story at:
YR Schools Get the Ax in Williams v. California Lawsuit
The year-round calendar will be phased out in all
schools by 2012 as part of the state's agreement and settlement of
the Williams v. California lawsuit, which named the year-round calendar
among the education detriments disproportionately imposed on minority
children. For a summary of the settlement see:
Editorial, Sacramento Bee 2004-08-23
Study Finds Lower Test Scores in Nevada YR Schools
The following story illustrates the problem a
year-round calendar creates in the new environment of high-stakes
tests required by the federal government. The stop-and-start
year-round calendar not only breaks learning continuity, it actually robs
children of instructional days, according to a Nevada Department of
Year-round schools had fewer days for
studying before tests
By Emily Richmond
LAS VEGAS SUN
Schools operating on year-round schedules were at a distinct disadvantage
when it came to proving they had made the "adequate yearly
progress" the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires.
Last year the progress lists were released in October. By moving the
testing schedule up to early spring, the district was able to get results
back sooner and compile the progress lists before the start of the new
school year Aug. 30.
The accelerated testing schedule gives parents of children at "needs
improvement" Title I schools more time to consider their transfer
But the change in the schedule also meant year-round schools had even
fewer days of instruction before their students were tested, said Karlene
McCormick-Lee, assistant superintendent of researchand accountability for
In the past the criterion-referenced test, which is based on a combination
of state and national standards, was given at the end of May after 165
days of instruction for nine-month schools. The new schedule pushed the
test dates up to the middle of March, after about 129 days of instruction.
Many students at year-round schools were tested this spring after as few
as 96 days of instruction, McCormick-Lee said.
After hearing complaints from parents and educators about the disparity,
the Nevada Department of Education began investigating whether year-round
schools had significantly different test results than campuses on
As part of the appeals process a school that fails to show the required
progress may claim "safe harbor" by demonstrating that the
school reduced the number of non-proficient students by at least 10
percent. The state's study determined that based on the fewer number of
instructional days it would be "nearly impossible" to meet the
10-percent threshold, Lee said.
All of the district's year-round schools that failed to show adequate
progress appealed on the basis on the state's findings, Lee said.
"The number of instructional days isn't a free pass -- and it
shouldn't be," Superintendent Carlos Garcia said. "What we're
looking for is a little more equity." State education officials are
meeting with representatives of Nevada's 17 school districts to devise a
new testing schedule. One proposal calls for testing all students at the
125th day of instruction. "The actual day doesn't matter, provided
everyone is treated the same," Garcia said.
Trend Turns Toward Traditional Schedule
California - California,
a barometer state on school trends since the 1970s and which has housed
the lion's share of year-round schools during that time, is retreating
from the year-round school calendar and returning school districts to a
traditional school schedule as rapidly as possible, according to a July
13, 2004 story "Trend Turns Toward Traditional Schedule," by Joe
The following are excerpts from that story:
school districts here and across California slowly are returning their
schools to traditional calendars, moving away from the year-round
schedules that helped the growing districts squeeze more students onto
The latest trend indicates once overcrowding
is under control, schools quickly return to the traditional calendar.
1998, the number of year-round public schools statewide has fallen from
1,517 to 1,486, according to the California Department of Education.
"School Districts in Lodi, San Jose and
elsewhere recently started the move back to regular schedules."
California public schoolchildren attending school on a year-round calendar
represented more than half the total enrollment of 2.2 million public
schoolchildren nationwide going to school year-round in the 2002-03 school
year. At times, California has housed more than 80 percent of the nation's
All Los Angeles Schools To Return to Traditional Calendar
All 129 Los Angeles schools using the Concept 6
year-round calendar will be returning to a traditional calendar,
according to the draft of an agreement to settle the Williams v.
California lawsuit that has cited the year-round calendar as an education
detriment in its education inequity court case, according to a July 10,
2004 Los Angeles Times story:
The agreement bars crowded campuses from converting to
the Concept 6 year-round calendar, which shaves 17 school days from
the 180-day school year.
Los Angeles school district, which in the 2002-03 school year had 240
schools using a year-round calendar, "already is in the midst of a
massive school construction program intended to return all of its student
to a traditional, 180-day school year by 2012," the story says. Los
Angeles has led the nation in the number of year-round schools for
ACLU Suit on California Schools Near Resolution, by Duke Helfand and Cara
Mia DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 2004-07-10 at
The HEAT IS ON Early School Start and Year-Round School
School districts around the country are having to
re-evaluate early school start dates because of budget cuts and high costs
of using them--especially the extra energy costs incurred of operating
schools in the hottest part of the year.
Details of the heavy financial burdens and health hazards caused by
forcing children into school buildings during the sweltering weeks of
summer are found in the August 12, 2003 minutes of the Resources For
Student Achievement Committee Meeting of the Tempe, Arizona, school
district. The committee cites the reconfigured school calendar as a large
waste of school funds.
Excerpts from this enlightening meeting follow. The discussion of
the financial and maintenance nightmares that face a school district that
operates in the dog days of summer ought to give school districts pause
about switching calendars and convince others to return to a traditional
school calendar with a starting date closer to Labor Day.
The excerpts from the Arizona meeting are below. for
the full text see:
Resources for Student Achievement
August 12, 2003
Diane Meulemans Business Services Department
Dan Perkins Governing Board Member
Mike Ruppel Director, Information Services
Robin Arredondo-Savage Governing Board Member
Bob Anderson Director, Plant Operations
Debra Hunter Community Member
Jeff Simmons,Director, Budget & Finance
Livvy McKeown Teacher,
Marcos de Niza
Pam Kellogg Support, Mountain Pointe
Nicole Reynolds Teacher,
McClintock Oscar Ramirez Support, Corona del Sol
The committee was directed to the responses we've received from Bob
Anderson regarding energy consumption and facilities. The first suggestion
was to use exterior facilities for athletic events during the daytime
whenever possible, and home football games should be played on Saturday
morning instead of Friday night. Bob feels that this suggestion is about
the cost of the lighting; but the cost of the a/c in the gyms and swamp
coolers in the locker room areas on the weekend will probably cost even
more than the lights on a Friday night.
He suggested that the Freshman and Junior Varsity games could be played
right after school, instead of at night with full concessions, etc. being
powered. The cost to run the concession stands is estimated at about
$250, but the booster groups count on these for fund raising. We would
need to ask Don Wilkinson if the scheduling of these games (Freshman and
JV) is an AIA thing, or if it's something we can change at the district
level. The committee agrees with Bob that the changing of the Friday night
varsity games is not practical or cost-effective.
Next suggestion was permanent implementation of the current energy saving
measures. Bob stated that everyone seems to agree that it's a good thing;
although right now with the record-setting heat we are experiencing in the
Valley, it's been difficult to keep the buildings cool.
Livvy is concerned that there should be different plans for cooling on
those kinds of days, as the extreme heat is affecting the health of the
Nicole suggested that perhaps the fall break in October should be
looked at again. It creates the need to start school earlier, when the
heat is at its peak, and utility costs are
The fall break has only just been incorporated by all three districts, but
maybe it's something that needs to be looked at from the perspective of
energy-consumption. Bob stated that
it's extremely hard on our a/c equipment to try
to cool buildings full of students at this time of year; the failure rates
are higher now, and it saps the life expectancy of the equipment to have
to operate under these conditions.
Nicole suggested that this needs to be looked at for the year round
calendar at Tempe High; does the student achievement level because of
that calendar offset the obviously higher utility costs during the summer?
Mike asked if we are going to adjust the calendar to correspond with
energy utilization requirements or if we need to stay with a calendar that
is consistent with our feeder districts at any cost. He
believes that starting school after September 1 and ending in June would
bemore cost efficient.
Pam stated that the Calendar Committee is always hearing pleas from
faculty members for the semester break to coincide with the winter break;
pushing the calendar ahead would create in inequity in the number of days
preceding and following the longest break of the regular calendar.
Bob stated that we need to realize that Excess Utilities is out as of
2008; and the increased M&O cost for
utilities is going to directly impact paychecks. Pam said that our
mandate as a committee is to look at our energy use and the wisest use of
our dollars, even if that might be a departure from the philosophy for why
the calendar is the way it is currently.
Livvy suggested that the three districts need to get together and talk
about this, since energy is an issue for them as well. Diane suggested
that we also need to look at having the calendar respond to when the
students will actually show up. With school starting well before Labor
Day, we are finding that the high point for attendance is around the 20th
day; wouldn't it be better if the high point were on the 10th or 5th
Dan asked if the committee is in agreement with keeping the current energy
savings measures in place, and if they wanted to address the calendar as a
separate issue. We are seeing significant savings from the current
measures; however, students and staff are
suffering because the buildings are not designed to operate optimally at
this time of year. Dan asked if we couldn't look at changing
the temperature settings somewhat.
Bob said that it's difficult for the equipment to
cool to the 76° level when there are 35 bodies in a room designed for 22;
also the problem is complicated at the high school level because of the
class changes at the end of every period. When the period is almost over
and the temperature is close to what it's supposed to be, the doors open
and all the cool air goes out and the hot comes in and the process starts
all over again.
Oscar stated that the high humidity at this time
of the year is a complicating factor as well. Dan asked if we
couldn't try to tweak the plan a bit and try to make people more
comfortable, even if it means we save a little less money.
Bob stated that rates are going up, and our budget isn't going up; we
really should try to save more money next year than we did this year.
Diane stated that in 2008-09 the Excess Utility budget goes away
completely, and we will have $1.3 million that we
need to get back into the budget for utilities. For the current
suggestion of permanently implementing the energy saving measures, the
committee agrees and will make this recommendation to the Board, since we
know that additional savings will need to be realized in order to offset
additional utility budget reductions.
Our calendar recommendation will be addressed in the suggestion
the school calendar, which is also included in this list.
The next suggestion is to have one site for summer school. Bob stated that
this is clearly a better idea to have only one site cooled, and leave it
cooled for an afternoon session.
Mike indicated that there are additional M&O implications in terms of
moving computer labs from one building to another. The committee agrees
with this suggestion and will recommend to the Board.
Next suggestion is to raise summer school fees in
order to help offset energy costs. Bob indicated that this is
already being looked at. The major concern is that if you took all of the
costs of summer school, including utilities, and made it a completely
self-sufficient program, it would become very unaffordable for many
students. Right now the summer school fees only cover the teacher and
support staff salaries and supplies.
You would need to raise the fees for approximately 2,500 students by
enough to cover the $60,000 to $70,000 in utility
costs for one site, which equates to about $30 additional per student.
The next suggestion on Bob's list was to alter the school calendar, and
this discussion was held previously in conjunction with permanent
implementation of current energy-saving measures. In order to minimize the
number of high-energy days that school is in session, the committee agrees
with the suggestion and will recommend that the energy-savings issues be
included in the next tri-district calendar committee discussion.
The last suggestion is a new submittal, and deals
with closing Tempe High School.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tempe High School is a year-round
school, which has been embroiled in controversy over several years about
the merits of the calendar, which was well documented in local media
accounts. Last year the new principal suggested abandoning the
year-round calendar, unconvinced of its educational benefits and concerned
about its higher costs.
Study: Early School Start Dates Hurt Economy
Columbia, S.C. - Reconfiguring
the school year with a shorter summer vacation can have a devastating
impact on the economy of communities and states that rely on revenues from
summer tourism business, according to a new study by Dr. Stephen C. Morse
of the University of South Carolina.
The 23-page report (see: Noteworthy)
shows the economic impact of early start dates on South Carolina
communities as well as the state, which rely on revenues from tourism in
part to fund schools.
There are also many hidden costs of school calendar change, Morse
warns: "Starting schools in August means schools must cool
facilities for children during the hottest month of the year - August,
costing unnecessary utility expenses by starting early, as opposed to
starting after Labor Day in September.
Morse estimates that early school start dates are costing South
Carolina $180 million in total
economic impact, $6.03 million is State tax revenues, $2.34 million in
local tax revenues, and $8.37 million in total State and local tax
This report is a must-read for parents, school
officials, state legislators, and other government leaders,
especially those in charge of budgets, as well as anyone concerned about
loss of revenues that can lead to higher personal taxes.
Study: No better scores for alternative calendar students
York City, Penn. - Yet
another academic study finds no academic advantage in using a year-round
A comparison study by the Boyer Center, a not-for-profit group
based at Messiah College, found no better test scores or school attendance
for the York City year-round students than for traditional calendar
"An analysis of the effects of a year-round calendar on the city's
elementary schoolchildren revealed little difference between the
year-round schedule and the traditional school year," according to a
Feb. 21 York City Dispatch story: "Study calls it a
draw; No better performance for alternative schedule." (See: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/searchit/index.html)
The elementary students who attend York City Academy, which became a
year-round calendar four years ago, have tutoring and other educational
activities available to them during the alternative calendar school
breaks: four two-week breaks and a five-week summer break. The sessions
were not popular, with a participation rate of only 8.6 percent, the
York City year-round school students scored no better than traditional
calendar students even though their classes tended to be smaller, the
report noted. Studies show a relationship between small class size
and improved student performance.
The Boyer Groups also told the school board that placing all
York City district schools on a year-round calendar would cost about
20 percent more.
Scores drop substantially in Alabama YRS district
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - New
figures on the Stanford Achievement Test show scores dropped
substantially across the board, and across all grades since
Alexander City, Ala., schools switched to a single-track year-round calendar district
wide in 1998. Alexander City, which has been touted as a model year-round
school district, is the very first school listed in an annual directory of
year-round schools produced by the National Association For Year-Round
City, Ala., Schools--
and After Year-Round School
of Stanford Achievement Test Scores
Grand Jury Report noted that Jordan High School has been the subject of
several media reports about neglect by the Los Angeles Unified School
HISTORIAN DISPELS 'AGRARIAN CALENDAR' MYTH
NEW YORK - A new book by a
historian of education knocks the teeth out of an old saw used by
year-round school marketers: The traditional school calendar is an
outmoded "agrarian calendar" that needs to be replaced.
fact, the traditional school year with its long summer vacation does NOT
stem from labor needs of 19th-century agrarian America, according to Dr.
Kenneth M Gold of the City University of New York. Gold is author of
a soon to be released book: School's In: The History of Summer
Education in American Public Schools (due out spring of 2002 by
Peter Lang Publishing). Gold says the move to a school year with a
long summer vacation marked a conscious recognition of the value of
leisure time, and was not a vestige of the farm labor cycle. Children were
let out in the spring and fall to do farm work, he notes. If the current
school year were an agrarian calendar, children would be attending school
in summer and winter sessions only.
history behind the school calendar holds lessons for modern
education reformers, Gold says. He is concerned about the social
consequences of shrinking summer vacation.
"Increasing summer school may be a good educational policy for
raising standardized test scores, but is it good social policy to tamper
with the season during which many families and friends forge their most
enduring bonds and memories?"
factors shaped the formation of the current school year, Gold writes in
his book, excerpts of which were part of a presentation to the
American Educational Research Association's annual meeting in Seattle in
spring 2001. See: http://www.aera.net/communications/news/073001.htm
calendar reformers of the 19th century cited health concerns for children
forced to endure summer heat in poorly constructed and ventilated
buildings. Changing the school calendar was viewed as a way to
address high rates of school absenteeism caused by families fleeing
to cooler climes in the summer. School policymakers also argued that
a uniform school year with a long summer break would not only increase
attendance but would address school dropout problems and be a
more cost-efficient means of delivering instruction.
Mann argued that the summer vacation was a good time for
professional development. Amariah Brigham, an influential 19th
century psychiatrist, wrote that too much time in school was
responsible for a "growing tide of insanity" among youth, Gold
about the origin of the long summer break has been recited by many
political leaders and education reformers. "It has proved
to be a handy argument: We're not adding school--we're reversing an
anachronism," writes education reporter Joe Mathews in a Aug. 29,
2001 Los Angeles Times article: "A Lesson in the Value of Summer
Vacation." Gov. Gray Davis is among the politicians who have used the
"agrarian calendar" argument to sell a school reform package
that includes a longer school year, Mathews writes.
OREGON BACKS AWAY FROM YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL
SALEM-KEIZER - Add
Oregon to the list of states backing away from the year-round calendar
after years of experimenting. Two of the largest year-round
districts in the state are returning to a traditional school year.
The Salem-Keizer school district recently announced plans to return four
of its seven year-round schools to a traditional calendar this fall and
drop the year-round calendar in the remaining three the following year,
after eight years of experimenting. In a survey of parents and teachers,
as many as 90 percent at one school favored a change to the traditional
The Woodburn district, which once had eight YR schools, is returning the
remaining six year-round schools to a traditional calendar in
That will leave only three Oregon schools on a year-round
calendar: Portland with two and Sheridan with one,
according to a June 24, 2001 story in the Statesman Journal (Salem,
Oregon). Portland has had a year-round school program in place
since 1974, but dropped a third year-round school. Sheridan's year-round
school is an alternative high school program with just 100 students.
The Salem-Kaiser district "stretched out the calendar
of some schools with hopes of boosting academic achievement and
attendance, but the project is losing steam," the Statesman Journal
Daycare problems created by the frequent vacation breaks of the
year-round calendar, was a major problem in the Salem-Kaiser
district. Attendance declines at both modified and traditional
schools were attributed to siblings being on different vacation
Other complications created by the year-round calendar included
scheduling for teacher in-service days and assessment tests. Weather
was also a factor. "For older schools . . . with poor
ventilation, teachers and students find hot weather a distraction. . .
It's like I'm in a oven or something," a 11-year-old, who
kept a water bottle and small fat at his desk, told the reporter.
The change of heart in Oregon was puzzling to Marilyn
Stenvall, executive director of the National Association For Year-Round
Education. When Florida retreated from the year-round calendar in the mid
1990s, Charles Ballinger, who was executive director of NAYRE, called it
Texas also has seen a dramatic decline in the number of year-round
Enrollment peaked in 1997-98 school year, with 188,00 and will
dwindle to around 63,000 in the coming school year. (See: State
Histories.) Both Florida and Texas once ranked second in the nation
for the number of year-round school, exceeded only California, which
uses the year-round calendar to address serious overcrowding problems.
"Stenvall questioned the merits of letting parents' day care needs
dictate the future of modified calendar education," the Statesman
Journal story said.
Stenvall said not enough studies were done to chart the
effectiveness of the year-round calendar. The district reported
mixed academic results, according to Mike Bednarek, Salem-Keizer's special
GRAND JURY RECOMMENDS PROBE OF YR SCHOOLS
LOS ANGELES - A Los
Angeles grand jury report scheduled to be released in early
July recommends the
district research the ramifications of using a year-round calendar,
according to a Los Angeles Daily News story. (See: www.dailynewslosangeles.com/news/articles/0701/03/new09.asp)
The recommendation is included in a grand jury
investigation of the Los Angeles Unified School District's
minidistrict reorganization plan, which would break the state's largest
school district into 11 local districts. The Los Angeles school district
is also the largest year-round school district in the nation.
The last paragraph of the Daily News online story
"The grand jury panel visited 28 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools.
The report also recommended the district study the ramifications of its year-round schools, which were found to have lower standardized test scores than campuses on traditional calendars, and explore sending more experienced teachers to inner-city schools. "
Since March 2000, two lawsuits over education inequities
have been filed in California on behalf of Los Angeles students. The
year-round calendar is cited as "academically damaging" by
plaintiffs seeking more equitable distribution of school construction
funds and better education opportunity for Los Angeles urban schools,
which have been forced to use the multi-track year-round calendar because
also See: www.maldef.org/press_releases/press_release_3_30_00.htm
For years, state construction fund requirements made it
difficult for urban districts to tap a limited pool of money set aside for
new schools. The state rules were recently changed.
A study at the University of California, Riverside, (see Important
Studies), found the multi-track year-round school delivers inequitable
education opportunity across tracks and segregates by socio-economic,
ethnic and racial groups.
FAILED TEXAS AND MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOLS:
COMMON DENOMINATOR: YR CALENDAR, LONGER YEAR
TEXAS - Advantage
Schools Inc. found no big advantage in using a longer school year or a
year-round calendar at six of its charter schools.
In a story this week on problems plaguing the Boston-based Advantage
Schools Inc., a for-profit company, the Boston Globe reported that four
Advantage schools in Texas failed to be taken off the
state's "low performing" category after three years of
trying even though there were significant gains on the Texas achievement
test. A check by SummerMatters
found that all four schools operate on a year-round calendar and an
extended school year.
"After three years, we simply should have been on a
plan that would allow us to pass that test this year," Melinda
Wheatley, a board member of all four Texas schools, told a Globe reporter.
"It's extremely disappointing, because my dream was
to help at-risk kids, and I'm disappointed that we can't get a rating from
the state that shows we truly are helping them," Wheatley said.
The year-round calendar also was a common denomination at two
Massachusetts schools that recently severed ties with Advantage. The
Massachusetts and Texas schools were all operating an extended school year
with 200 days. The typical traditional school calendar with a
long summer break is 180 days.
Many charter schools across the nation use a year-round
calendar as one approach for improving performance. Many also use an
extended school year, which provides additional revenue to operate the
EDITOR'S NOTE: A July 3 Boston Globe story reports
that Advantage Schools will be taken over by New York-based Mosaic
Education Inc., a charter school management firm.
Look for more on this story in the
summer issue of the SummerMatters!!
newsletter coming in late July.
newsletter subscription information, see About Us.
Extended Year idea dies in California
CALIFORNIA - Gov. Gray
Davis has decided to abandon his $65 million budget proposal to
extend the middle school year.
The news is being greeted with sighs of relief by lawmakers
who were concerned about costs, educators who said the plan would do
little to improve education and students who attend California's 800
Economic slowdowns in the state coupled with higher energy costs facing
schools led to the decision, according to a June 20 article in The Los
Angeles Times. In May, when sales tax revenues fell $150 million shy of
projections, the governor scaled back the $100 million middle school
proposal that would have required an extra six weeks of classroom time
for all middle schoolers. The revised $65 million plan focused
on just those students in the 20 percent of middle schools with the
poorest academic record. But this week, Davis gave up on that idea
in hopes of drafting a balanced budget by July 1.
The governor cut some $500 million in education proposals, including $188
million from a $541 million fund for school energy costs and energy
The longer school year was a hard sell to parents, according to Ken
Lawrence-Emanuel, an assistant principal at Los Gatos' Fisher Middle
School, the Los Angeles Times story said. ``I don't think I would
like to have had to tell a thousand middle school students that you have
to go to school, but your brothers and sisters don't,'' he said. ``That
would have been a nightmare.''
The proposal came under heavy criticism from members
of the governor's own party, earlier media accounts said. Veteran legislator John Vasconcellows, D-San Jose,
who heads the Senate Education Committee, said the vast sums of
money the extended year program required would be put to better use helping
Conservative voices also criticized the
proposal. A May 16 editorial from The San Diego Union-Tribune, known
for its conservative leanings, said:
"Tacking on six weeks to the school year only makes sense if the
schools themselves are held strictly accountable for the quality of
instruction during that time. Otherwise, it amounts to little more
than a hollow gesture."
a review of news with
school calendar implications
From media: June 20, 2001 to Present
Curriculum changes, teacher
training make difference
LOS ANGELES - A combination of new
reading curriculum, an intensive teacher training and a teacher
coaching program is credited with dramatic increases in test scores of
first- and second-graders in Los Angeles, the nation's largest
year-round school district.
For the first time, Los Angeles first-graders are performing
above average in reading and spelling, scoring in the 56th percentile
nationally, according to an October 10, 2001, Los Angles Times
Los Angeles achievement scores have been some of the worst in the
nation in the three decades since the school district began using a
year-round calendar, a reshuffling of the school year that proponents
claim improves education performance. The credibility of such claims
is currently being challenged in California courts.
Two California lawsuits over education inequities cite among the
list the use of the year-round calendar. In July 2001, a Los
Angeles grand jury recommended the school district investigate to
see if the year-round calendar is responsible for the huge disparity
in test scores between students at year-round schools and
traditional calendar schools. Jurors were told by principals and
staff at low-scoring schools that the year-round calendar was
the culprit in the poor show on tests.
Los Angeles School Supt. Roy Romer said first-grade scores
represent an improvement of 21 percentile points from two years earlier in
reading and 18 points in spelling, the Times story said. He cited
several factors that resulted in the dramatic jumps in test scores: 1) a
new reading program begun a year ago for kindergarten and first and second
grades; 2) an intensive teacher-training program; 3) 300 coaches
hired to help teachers monitor their lessons and their students' progress.
Scores rose significantly among all ethnic and racial groups. Even though
more than 60% of the district's first-graders are still learning to speak
English, their rank in reading rose from the 33rd percentile nationally to
the 48th percentile in one year. African-American student scores rose
sharply, also, from the 45th percentile to the 55th percentile. White and
Asian students saw 9 and 8 point gains respectively.
The results in Los Angeles provide new evidence for opponents of
Romer extended the new reading program through fifth grade,
this year and added 275 more teaching coaches. (Posted
October 10, 2001)
YRS is on the rocks in
NORTH CAROLINA - Continued enrollment
declines in Rockingham County's year-round schools has district officials
scrambling for ways to shore up the program, according to an August 3,
2001 story in the News-Record.
Six year-round elementary schools have 233 fewer students attending
this year than last year.
Western Rockingham Middle School's dropped the calendar this year because of waning interest.
Enrollment in year-round school programs have seen a steady
decline since the 1998-99 school year when 1,630 students were using the
calendar. This year, about 900 students are attending school year-round.
School officials are examining a plan that would end the school-within-a
school year-round program at six sites, creating three schools that use
the year-round calendar only. School officials report that running a school-within-a-school
program is costly and causes scheduling problems for teachers, students and parents,
the News-Record story said.
School officials told the News-Record they aren't sure why enrollment has
dropped the past three years in four of six elementary programs and at the middle school.
Other districts across the state are also moving toward eliminating
school-within-a-school year-round calendars, according to Cammie Hall, director of elementary programs for Rockingham County Schools.
Since the 1995-1996 school year, the school-within-a-school numbers have
dropped by half to just 30, hall said. (Posted Sept. 28,
Testing backlash is bad news for
CALIFORNIA - A growing backlash
against high-stakes testing could throw a wrench into the year-round
In recent years, promoters of the year-round calendar have thrived in the
pressure-filled climate created by high-stakes tests, garnering support
from some teachers and school districts with a sales pitch that
reconfiguring the school year will make a difference in test score
But opposition to testing is growing. Across the nation, small groups
of parents and students are balking at the emphasis placed on tests.
Boycotts of tests have been reported this year in Michigan, Massachusetts
and New York. Two-thirds of the eighth graders at Scarsdale Middle School
in Westchester County, N.Y., refused to take exams in May.
Now the nation's largest teacher union, which has 2.6 million
members, is bolting. Responding to the parent backlash, the National
Education Association voted at its Los Angeles convention in early
July 2001 to support any legislation that permits parents to let their
children skip the tests.
The National Education Association approved a measure that
"directs the union's lobbyists to fight mandatory testing
requirements on a federal level. And it offers the union's support to
state- level delegations in lobbying for laws allowing parents to opt out
of testing," according to a July 7 Associated Press report that
appeared in The New York Times.
The vote indicates the 9.000 NEA delegates do not want
high-stakes testing, said the union's director of government
relations. The union does not opposed testing, but favors a variety
of indicators to measure learning.
Standardized tests are a cornerstone of President Bush's
education plan in which test results would be used to
determine distribution of federal funds to school districts. Bills before
Congress require every public school student in grades three through the
first year of high school to be tested in reading and math.
"If you want to know how your child is doing, you don't wait seven
months to get the results of a standardized test," said Judi Hirsch,
an Oakland, Calif., algebra teacher who introduced the measure.
"You ask your kid's teacher."
From media: May 16 to June 19, 2001
Hi-Tech Allies for the
Traditional School Year?
CALIFORNIA - Could the politically
powerful technology industry wind up being one of the strongest allies for
a traditional school year with a long summer break?
Kenneth C. Green may not realize it, but he makes one of the best
arguments for the traditional school calendar, with its longer summer
vacation, in a June 2001 article in Converge magazine in which
he takes great pains to bash a school year based on an
"Summer. . . is completely out of sync with the technology
industry product cycle," according to Green, visiting scholar at the
Claremont Graduate University and director of the campus computing
project. Green, vice president of education at Digital Convergence,
notes the problems a traditional school year creates for
companies with new product lines that want to capture education
dollars. The introductions come in early winter after most schools have
spent their technology money. Mid-summer introductions leave no time to
get the new products installed in the typical six to seven weeks schools
are out in California. California, of course, has one of the shortest
summer breaks in the nation thanks to a high use of the year-round
A recent spring 2001 launch of new product by some major tech
companies may address some of the sales and marketing concerns, but the
problem still exists of having only a narrow window of opportunity
to get the systems running in the six weeks before school starts.
"The rigid school/college calendar serves as a clear
obstacle to change," Green laments, but he confesses he
doesn't have a solution for the problem.
COMMENT: The answer is obvious: Support a traditional
school year with a long summer break of 10 to 11 weeks, and a school
starting date around Labor Day, like in the good old days.
Ironically, the success of technology industries based in California have
contributed greatly to school overcrowding problems there and a high use
of the multi-track school calendar, with its shorter summer break, to
house more children.
Another Year-Round School
FLORIDA - Communities that fought
so hard to rid schools of the year-round calendar in the early and
mid-1990s, could find themselves right back where they started. The
Florida Legislature allocated some $44 million for extended school year
programs. Most extended school year programs these days place children on a year-round calendar. The Legislature successfully challenged
Gov. Bush in court when he attempted to trim some $16 million from
Not exactly the whole story on
YRS test scores
WILMINGTON, N.C. - The
Wilmington Morning Star left out important information in a May 30 story
in which it raised the possibility that high scores on the state
writing test at two New Hanover County year-round elementary schools may
have had something to do with the reconfigured school year.
Eaton and Codington Elementary year-round schools posted
significant gains on the state writing test and the best scores of
the 22 elementary schools in the county. This "has led some school
officials to wonder what role the year-round schedules played in the
success," the story said, followed by this quote from the curriculum
coordinator at Eaton: "I certainly think that it (the year-round
schedule) may have helped."
Absent from the news account were several factors that put the gains
1) Both Eaton and Codington are also magnet schools, which attract
children of parents who are usually more affluent and more involved with
their child's education, factors identified with higher achievement.
2) Both year-round schools also have a low percentage of children on
free and reduced lunch, a factor that influences the performance level of
schools. Just 13 percent of Eaton students qualify for lunch assistance
programs, with 20 percent falling in that category at Codington. Some
elementary schools in the district have 85 percent of students receiving
lunch assistance, according to Sue Jameson, resource specialist for New
Hanover elementary schools.
3) Significant gains on the writing test also were seen at 18 other
schools that use a traditional calendar.
All schools used a new writing curriculum, which Jameson believes is
largely responsible for the jump in scores in at most schools. While
Jameson said she personally likes the year-round calendar and has taught
at a year-round school, she said there is no evidence to show the calendar
is a factor in writing test scores.
The story did take note of other factors that may have contributed to high
scores, but they are found later in the story. Both schools held workshops
for parents to help them understand what would be on the test and
what are acceptable papers. One school even held an after-school writing
academy. Eaton recruited volunteers to work one-on-one with fourth-graders
one day a week for six weeks, having children write the kind of essays
required for the state test. Both schools also have resource teachers
whose sole focus is language arts.
The Page 1 story did note year-round schools in surrounding counties
showed only modest gains compared to the New Hanover magnet schools. A
graphic with those scores accompanies the front page story
headed: "Year-Round School Advantage?" The reader
who merely glances at the story is left with the impression that the
year-round calendar increases test scores.
Chicago Headed for More Calendar
CHICAGO - More school calendar
mischief could be visited upon the Chicago area with the announced
resignation June 6 of Paul G. Vallas. The blunt-talking schools
chief, who is credited with the turnaround of Chicago's schools,
bucked pressure from Chicago Mayor Daley with his decision earlier this
year to set a post-Labor Day school start date of Sept. 5. A poor
turnout last year when school doors opened Aug. 22 prompted a survey
in which 59 percent of parents and 60 percent of teachers said they
preferred a later school start date. During his six years, Vallas
oversaw a $3 billion construction program that included 71 new
schools and renovation to 500.
Mayor Daley has been a supporter of
year-round schools. Watch out for efforts in the coming year to
expand them there. Illinois has been a hot bed of activity for year-round
calendar consultants in recent years.
Baltimore Spends Millions on
Baltimore - The school system
will spend $12.8 million for its five-week summer school program, the
largest ever. Half the 12,000 students who attended summer school last
year didn't get promoted. Similar high rates of failure were seen in other
urban school districts. About half the students in New York City who have
been given "promotion in doubt" warning letters recently
attended a five-week summer school last year, according to the New
York Daily News.
COMMENT: $12.8 million would have
bought a lot of tutoring services for 12,000 children throughout the year,
during the time they were falling behind. Summer school and year-round school
intersessions are too little too late.
Scheduling at Magnet School
Nuys -- More high schools and middle schools in the Los
Angeles Unified School District are being forced to consider a year-round
calendar to address overcrowding. Within five years, most high school are
expected to convert and more than half the middle schools. Six teachers in
Van Nuys High school have asked for a transfer because of the coming
change, according to a May 17 Los Angles Times story. The change is
creating serious complications for the magnet school program in Van Nuys,
the largest in the system, said Principal Herm Clay. A third of the 3,600
Van Nuys students are enrolled in either math-science, performing arts or
medicine magnet programs.
Creative Alternative to
a Year-Round High School
New York City -- New York
City high schools, which are looking at year-round school to address
overcrowding, will get some relief from a new program that will
allow select 11th-graders to start college at a special institute in
Brooklyn and graduate from college sooner. The program, a joint venture of
the Board of Education and Bard College, will enroll 125 student in
September and eventually 1,000 students. Bard College President Leon Botstein sees
the program as a means to help bored kids stay in school. The program
will be housed in an empty wing of a Brooklyn junior high school.
COMMENT: Before switching
high schools to a year-round calendar New York City officials might want
to consider more creative solutions to overcrowding if they want to
avoid the kind of public wrath and lawsuits being visited on policy-makers
in Los Angeles. See next item.
Safety an Issue for Parents in
Largest YR District
Los Angeles -- A survey
released in early June found 70 percent of parents whose children attend
Los Angeles schools, the largest year-round school district in the nation,
have a negative view of the board and its politics. Three-quarters
of parents with a children in high school believe the safety of
their children is at risk, according to survey results reported in the Los
Angeles Daily News.
COMMENT: Parents in Los Angeles, the largest
year-round school district in the nation, have good reason to be negative
and concerned about the safety of their children. Officials with Los
Angeles gang monitoring agencies note
the correlation between the growth of gangs and gang violence and the
growth of year-round schools. The frequent breaks of the year-round
calendar swell the ranks of
latchkey kids and create a perfect breeding ground for gang recruitment and
juvenile crime. In a recent lawsuit on behalf of Los Angeles
children, the use of multi-track year-round education to address
overcrowding was cited among the education inequities. University
researchers in California found the multi-track year-round calendar
created educational inequities and segregated children by socio-economic,
ethnic and racial groups.