It’s hard to imagine life without summer vacation. What would we do without lazy summer days catching up on sleep, spending our time at the beach, or enjoying a swim in the pool? Believe it or not, some people think that we shouldn’t have summer vacation. I know what you’re all thinking: No summer?! But summer vacation was not always a given.
The summer break calendar was started when we had a more agricultural society, so that kids could help families on the farm. Some say that this is an outdated model in our modern society, especially given the decline in academic performance that occur for some students during the summer break. As a result, the shift to year-round school is becoming a more common practice.
Since the system is relatively new, there isn’t much research on whether year-round schooling is actually beneficial. The research that does exist suggests mixed results. However, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that summer vacation leads to learning loss. According to Oxford Learning, about two and a half months of math skills and two months of reading skills are lost over the summer. In addition, it is estimated that six weeks in the fall are spent relearning old material to make up for this learning loss. Furthermore, it can take up to two months from the first day of school for a student to “get back on track”. There have been studies done that show that students’ score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning of summer vacation. Summer learning loss is not just something that is temporary. In fact, losses can accumulate through high school, college and beyond. It is especially concerning because two-thirds of the achievement gap between low-income families and wealthier families is a result of summer learning loss.
Year round schooling is not necessarily the same as increasing the number of days that students are in school. In fact, many year-round schools have a total of 180 days of school, just as traditional school schedules do, but kids attend classes year-round, with more frequent breaks in between. In the forty-five-fifteen plan, students spend forty-five days in school and then have fifteen days off. However, the sixty-twenty and the ninety-thirty plans are also ways to organize year-round schooling. With this system, schools can either choose to have all their students be on the same calendar, or they can implement a multi-rack schedule, which has groups of student attending school at different times. If there is a “staggered” or multi-track schedule, it might reduce class size, making it easier for schools to manage students.
Advocates of the year-round schedule describe many advantages. With a long summer break, students tend to forget a lot of what they learned during the school year. Year-round schooling may help to improve retention rates. With dispersed vacations, students will get breaks when they need them most: during the school year. With all the responsibilities students manage on a daily basis, it would be helpful to have more frequent breaks to give their brains (and schedules) a rest. Other advocates argue that it can help working parents manage their schedules.
However, not everyone sees these benefits. Critics of the year-round schedule have several concerns. Year-round schooling could interfere with sport schedules and extracurricular activities. There might be problems with organizing practices, games, or competitions outside of school, which would overcomplicate schedules for parents. People argue that year-round schooling could take away from the time that students should have to do things outside of the classroom. It could create problems for teenagers who want to get summer jobs, attend summer programs, camps. These institutions will suffer if this school system becomes widespread.
The transition to year-round school could also cause financial problems for districts.
From 2011-2012, four percent of public schools were in session year-round. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, that’s about 3,700 schools. However, without enough research, it’s difficult to say if more schools will adopt this new system.
It’s hard to imagine MHS becoming a year-round school. With the number of beach clubs, summer camps, and summer programs in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, it would be life changing to get rid of summer vacation. Are the benefits of year-round school worth it?
By Sophia Glinski