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Watch this space for insightful information that continues to show YRS does NOT improve learning

On this page you will find school calendar-related:

bullet Bulletins - important calendar developments                                                          (August 26, 2004) Multitrack Calendar Gets the Ax in California Lawsuit Multitrack schools will be phased out by 2012, as part of the settlement of the Williams v. California lawsuit in which the  year-round school calendar is cited among the education detriments disproportionately imposed on minority students.  For a summary of the landmark lawsuit, see: — Editorial Sacramento Bee 2004-08-23
http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/10480840p-11400181c.html

(July 23, 2004) Study: Lower Scores in Nevada YR Schools)        see:  http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/lv-ed/2004/jul/23/517223063.html 

(July 13, 2004 - Trend turns toward traditional calendar) see:
          http://www.recordnet.com/daily/news/articles/071304-gn-7.php

(July 7, 2004 - Goal: All L.A. schools on traditional calendar)

(
Sept. 21, 2001-  LA Grand Jury Report)                                      
bullet Media Watch - a review of recent news with calendar implications
                     (New: July 8, 2001 - Testing Policy and YRS)
bullet

Latest Posting - Alabama YRS test scores drop across the board
                     (New, Feb. 2002 - See Bulletin item this page)
                    --
Another study: No academic advantage in YRS
                     (New, Feb.21,  2002 - See Bulletin item this page)       
                     (New, Sept. 2002 - Economic Impact of Early School Start)   
                     (New, Nov. 2005 - Link to "The Year-Round Mess."                                              New, Aug. 2007 - Ohio State University Study: No YRS Learning Boost


 SummerMatters!!  website updates
New: Aug.  2007 - Study at Ohio State University again finds no academic advantage for YRS    New: Nov.  2005 -Chicago schools and "The Year-Round Mess" 
New: July 23, 2004 -Study Finds Lower Test Scores in Nevada YR Schools                            New: July 13, 2004 -Trend Turns Toward Traditional Schedule
     New:
July 7, 2004: Los Angeles Goal: Traditional Calendar                                            
New: Sept. 3, 2003 - Heat Is On Early School Start & Year-Round School
New: June 21, 2002 - See our New TEST SCORES page


Anniversary for 

SummerMatters!!
  
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:  bussardre@aol.com        
                                                                                       Last updated Dec. 27, 2005

           **Bulletins**

August 2007: 
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 year. 

See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases.2007/08/070811151449.htm

November 2005: 
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:
http://www.substancenews.com/Mambo/content/view/294/83/ 

August 23, 2004: 
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
http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/10480840p-11400181c.html

July 23, 2004: 
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 Education study.

 http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/lv-ed/2004/jul/23/517223063.html

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 option.

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 the district.

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 nine-month calendars.

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.

July 13, 2004: 
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 Tone. 
See: http://www.recordnet.com/daily/news/articles/071304-gn-7.php

The following are excerpts from that story: 
     “Many 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 crowded campuses.”
     “The latest trend indicates once overcrowding is under control, schools quickly return to the traditional calendar.”
     “Since 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 year-round students.

July 10, 2004: 
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 decades.
See: — ACLU Suit on California Schools Near Resolution, by Duke Helfand and Cara Mia DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 2004-07-10 at
http://www.latimes.com/news/education/
la-me-williams10jul10,1,3881810.story?coll=la-news-learning

September, 3, 2003: 
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.
Billee Bussard
editor, www.SummerMatters.com

The excerpts from the Arizona meeting are below. for the full text see:
http://www.tempehighschools.com/tuhsd_main/district_office/obj2/2003-08-12Resources.pdf.

Resources for Student Achievement
Committee Meeting
August 12, 2003


Attending:
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 students.
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 considerably greater.

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  day?

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 to alter
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.

September, 16, 2002: 
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 revenues.

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.

February, 21, 2002: 
Study: No better scores for alternative calendar students

York City, Penn. - Yet another academic study finds no academic advantage in using a year-round calendar.  

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 students.

"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  study said.

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.

February 2002: 
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 Education.

--Alexander City, Ala., Schools--
Before and After Year-Round School
Comparison of Stanford Achievement Test Scores
1999-2001

Grade

Reading

Mathematics

Language

Science

SAT Total

Year

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

‘99

‘00

‘01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3

45

43

44

51

49

49

57

54

53

51

47

53

52

49

50

 4

54

56

51

60

57

52

62

63

57

60

57

52

59

58

53

 5

56

52

55

64

65

60

67

63

61

64

62

59

62

59

58

 6

63

61

57

75

72

66

77

73

69

70

71

66

71

68

63

 7

55

53

54

68

66

58

68

67

63

68

68

67

63

62

59

 8

57

61

55

61

68

59

61

68

61

65

72

66

60

66

60

 9

45

46

43

60

63

60

67

62

63

57

56

53

55

55

55

10

44

43

48

56

52

51

62

59

62

60

56

54

55

52

57

11

52

43

45

56

53

49

70

67

66

57

56

47

60

55

53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 year
score
change

All reading scores drop except for 10th grade

All math scores drop or show no improvement

All language scores drop or show no improvement

All science scores drop except for 3rd grade

All scores drop or
show  no improvement

The chart, compiled by Billee Bussard, editor of  SummerMatters.com,  uses  data provided by the Alabama Department of Education. For space reasons, the Social Science scores are not included in this chart.  See: www.alsde.edu

Sept. 22, 2001: 
LOW YRS TEST  SCORES GET
GRAND JURY  ATTENTION 
      
(See the startling test score differences in chart below)

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury wants the nation's largest year-round school district to do a study to determine if the year-round calendar is the culprit in the dramatic test score differences it observed  between the district's year-round schools and traditional calendar schools.

SummerMatters recently obtained a copy of the grand jury report issued  in late July 2001. The grand jury said  that many principals in low-scoring  Los Angeles schools blamed the year-round school schedule  for low scores, saying  year-round school students  "lost 17 days of instruction per school year under this system."

Two lawsuits filed recently in California over education inequities charge the year-round calendar is "academically damaging." (See July 3, 2001 Bulletin item below.)

The table below lists the Stat 9 test scores of the 28 elementary, 3 middle and 3 high schools examined by the Los Angeles Grand Jury. Scores of traditional calendar schools are followed by the year-round schools.

School Calendar Used Reading Score Math Score

Elementary Schools

Clover

Traditional 79 87
Van Gogh  Traditional 72 83
Fairburn Traditional 86 93
Topeka Traditional 72 77
Sherman Oaks Traditional 68 70
Park Western Traditional 77 79
Hancock Park  Traditional 84 89
Liberty  Year-round 14 27
Middleton Year-Round 6 15
Commonwealth Year-Round 28 37
Cahuenga Year-Round 31 44
Arminta Year-Round 21 25
Wadsworth Year-Round 9 21
Union Year-Round 9 17
Nueva Vista Year-Round 13 22
Sixty-Sixth Year-Round 8 20
Tenth Year-Round 9 16
Rowan Year-Round 12 21
Fishburn Year-Round 13 24
West Vernon Year-Round 5 9
Pacoima Year-Round 8 7
South Park Year-Round 18 16
Trinity Year-Round 10 17
Barton Hill Year-Round 10 14
Eagle Rock Year-Round 56 62
Sharp Year-Round 14 23
Politi Year-Round 11 23
Logan Year-Round 22 14
Middle School
Bret Harte Middle Traditional 19 12
Horace Mann Middle Traditional 15 7
Gage Middle Year-Round 18 19
High School
El Camino Real HS Traditional 54 65
Jordan HS  *** Traditional 4 12
Huntington Park HS Year-Round 9 20

***The Grand Jury Report noted that Jordan High School has been the subject of several media reports about neglect by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Sept. 20, 2001: 
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.

In 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.

The 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?" 

Many  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

School 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. 

Horace 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 writes.

Misinformation 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.

July 23, 2001: 
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 calendar model.  

The Woodburn district, which once had eight YR schools, is returning the remaining  six  year-round schools to a traditional calendar in the fall.

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 story said.

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 schedules. 

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 "an anomaly." 

Texas also has seen a dramatic decline in the number of year-round schools. 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 projects coordinator. 

July 3, 2001: 
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 says:
"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 of overcrowding. 
(See: www.aclunc.org/students/ca-school-complaint.html  
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.

June 27, 2001: 
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. www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/177/metro/Charter_school_firm_cuts_40_jobsP.shtml

"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 schools. 

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.  
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June 20, 2001: 
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 middle schools.

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 conservation.

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 under-performing students. 

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." 

Media Watch 
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 story.

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 year-round school.

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 Rockingham, N.C.

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, 2001)

Testing backlash is bad news for YRS promoters

CALIFORNIA - A growing backlash against high-stakes testing could throw a wrench into the year-round school movement.

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 outcomes.

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  "agrarian" calendar. 

 "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 calendar. 

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 Back Door

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 that item.

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 into  perspective:

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 Change?

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. 
COMMENT: 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 Summer School

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.


YR Complicates Scheduling at Magnet School

Van 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.