By: James Nordbergand Darius Chikliwala
Summer is around the corner, and students are very eager to get out of school, but this prolonged break can have negative consequences on students of all ages. A solution is to exchange the current calendar for one that features the same total number of school days, but extends into summer while adding shorter more frequent vacations.
7 students were interviewed randomly at lunch about if they supported the current calendar or favored a year-round alternative. An example given to them was a calendar featuring nine weeks of school alternating with three-week breaks. The kids were also given two quotes from summerlearning.org before they made their decision. The quotes were “Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains,” and “Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break.”
“I’d like more frequent vacations,” said student Nathan Barboza when asked if he would prefer the year-round calendar. “Yeah staying healthy is important,” was his response to if the quotes impacted his answer.
Other students were more skeptical of the benefits of changing the calendar. “No because I still feel kids will still lose knowledge over the smaller breaks,” said student Eric Munguia when asked if the calendar should be changed.
Some students feel it simply doesn’t matter much to which calendar is used. “I don’t care,” said student Abigail Boudreau. “I’m not going to get obese,” said student Sarah Pimental when asked how the quotes impacted her choice.
Sentimental feelings factored in for other students. Matt Jimenez and Will Pion both agreed that Summer has always been something to look forward to. “I like it the way it is because it’s the way it’s always been,” said student Avery Schroder.
Some schools already use a year_round calendar. “During the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, about 4 percent of public schools were operating on a year-round schedule, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s 3,700 schools, 400 of which are charter schools,” said Jaclyn Zubrzycki from edweek.org. While not many schools operate on this system nearby, it is much more common in the South and the West.
A year-round calendar doesn’t come without its own problems. According to Elisabeth Palmer and Amy Bemis, things such as increased administrator burn-out, scheduling conflicts with family vacations and school or community activities, difficulty in arranging daycare, having siblings on different attendance schedules, and difficulty in scheduling teacher in-service days are all disadvantages.
Bemis and Palmer also believe that this “May require additional operating costs, lack sufficient time for maintenance, be inconvenient for teachers (who may have to change classrooms during the year), lead to overworked clerical staff or administration, increase difficulties in communicating with staff or parents, and result in some students missing school events scheduled at off-track times.”