Instead of taking a full Summer vacation, a year-round school provides learning opportunities throughout the entire year. The school continues to operate on a 180-day learning schedule, which is mandatory in the United States. It simply takes shorter breaks between each term.
In the standard year-round format, students attend school for 45 days. Then they receive 15 days off. That’s the equivalent of attending school for 9 weeks, then taking three weeks off.
It is a change from the traditional idea of having a Summer break. There are questions about the value of having a continuous schedule instead of one with a longer break. Here are the pros and cons of year-round school to consider.
List of the Pros of Year-Round School
1. It can ease overcrowding issues in some school districts.
One of the unique aspects of the year-round schedule is that it can provide three different tracks for students to follow. That means there are only two tracks attending school at any given time during the year. The year-round schedule, when employed on a 9/3 track, makes it possible to reduce school population sizes by 33% automatically. That allows the buildings to be in constant use while keeping classroom sizes low, which increases student learning opportunities.
2. It keeps the learning process ongoing.
During the traditional Summer vacation, students can lose much of the information they learned from the previous grade. Year-round learning changes this dynamic. The students stay engaged with the learning process throughout the year, which reduces information loss. Even though the students at a year-round school attend the same days, they are at a slight advantage because the shorter breaks help them keep more of what they learned.
3. It eliminates the boredom of an extended break from school.
Although the prospect of a long Summer vacation seems inviting, for many students, the reality of Summer is that it becomes very boring. Even families who have their students engaged in multiple activities can struggle to keep their children fully engaged during a break that can last as long as 12 weeks. By creating shorter breaks throughout the year, the opportunities for boredom decrease, which means there are fewer chances to get into trouble.
4. It reduces the need for remediation classes.
Remediation is the process of re-learning what was already learned. Under the traditional school structure, the first 2-3 weeks of a new school year require remediation because of the extended Summer holiday. Under the format of a year-round schedule, the needs for student remediation can be addressed throughout the entire year, which makes the learning process more effective for students.
5. It reduces the need to have a Summer school.
Many schools are already struggling with their budgets. Under the traditional schedule, a Summer school is often necessary to reduce remediation rates in high-risk students. Summer programs are implemented to keep students engaged with core educational elements. These all come at a cost. By keeping the school open year-round instead, the benefits of ongoing education are received without the added costs.
6. It gives families more options for vacation scheduling.
Because there are extended breaks offered throughout the year, families in a year-round district have more opportunities to schedule a long vacation. They are no longer confined to the 12-week window of Summer or the 2 weeks offered at Christmas. Although this benefit may not apply to every family, it does offer options for some. Traveling during off-season days is also cheaper at most locations, which allows families to have the same amount of fun for less of a cost.
7. It is a proven format for schooling.
Many countries around the world already employ the year-round schedule successfully. The traditional American Summer vacation is actually a global outlier. The data from other districts around the world show that there are numerous learning benefits which come from staying in school with shorter breaks throughout the year.
List of the Cons of Year-Round School
1. It can make it difficult for students to get involved with their work.
When you’re in school for only 9 weeks at a time, you’re just getting geared up to begin the learning process when you’re released from school for an extended break again. For students who struggle to focus already, the frequent process of gearing up and winding down throughout the year can make it more difficult for them to stay involved with their work. It ends up creating more disruptions instead of preventing them.
2. It changes the family schedule.
Instead of dealing with Summer supervision issues, working parents in a year-round school must deal with finding daycare for their children at periodic points throughout the year instead. It can be so difficult to juggle work and school with this type of schedule that two-parent households may have one parent stay at home to help manage it. Even if that is not necessary, the traditional summer vacation and other planned holidays require changes to fit with the calendar demands of the school.
3. It doesn’t provide year-round activities.
Just because the school is going year-round doesn’t mean the district is providing activities for the students throughout the year. Most high schools do not provide competitive sports throughout the year. Teens want to be able to find a job, especially during the Summer months, to save up some cash or buy things they want. That process goes away if the school is wanting compliance with a year-round schedule.
4. It reduces building maintenance opportunities.
Schools need to be maintained, just like every other building. When they are being used all year, every year, the opportunities to perform heavy maintenance activities, like resurfacing a floor, are reduced. That can increase the overall cost of maintenance for districts because they are forced to be proactive in how they maintain their facilities, which ultimately means taxpayers and home owners end up footing the extra expenses. Cost increases of 10% in this area are common.
5. It reduces opportunities for extra-curricular activities.
Some teens need to work to support themselves, even in the United States. A year-round school schedule makes this difficult to accomplish. There are rules about how many hours a teen can work during a school day. For kids who are 14 or 15, they can only work 3 hours per day, or 18 hours per week, when school is in-session. If school is not in session, then they can work for 8 hours, up to 40 hours in a week. Many students must be home by 7pm as well with local youth employment laws on school days, providing further limitations.
6. It may cause some families to be on different schedules.
When there are multiple tracks involved with a year-round school, some families may find their children on different schedules from each other. Under the 9/3 schedule, if a family had 3 kids, it is theoretically possible that one child would always be home during a break all year long. Schools do their best to prevent this from happening, but “doing their best” is not the same as a guarantee. That puts some families into a very difficult financial situation.
7. It prevents teachers from maintaining a secondary employment.
Teachers often take a short-term, part-time job during the Summer as a way to supplement their income under the traditional format. That ability goes away during the year-round schedule. Although teacher wages have been rising in the United States in recent years, the national average starting teacher salary is still just $38,000, which is below the median income level. In Montana, starting teachers only make $30,000. Going to a year-round schedule may make it difficult for some teachers to be able to make ends meet.
8. It may create classroom environmental issues.
In the United States, the schools that are being used in many districts are several decades old. The last survey of building age for public schools discovered that the average public school building is more than 40 years old. Many of these buildings are not equipped with air conditioning. Trying to hold classes in that environment, during the warm months of Summer, may be detrimental to the learning process.
9. It reduces the impact of traditional Summer programs.
Many private companies and not-for-profit organizations rely on the extended break in the traditional American schooling schedule to fund their activities. Youth camps, for example, would need to change their entire way of providing services to accommodate the differences in the year-round schedule. Organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts would need to restructure themselves in some ways as well. These impacts have financial costs which are not often calculated when looking at the advantages and disadvantages of year-round schooling.
The pros and cons of year-round school show that some families will thrive in that type of environment, while others do not. Students get the same amount of instructional time. Some will be focused. Others will not. That is why each key point must be individually evaluated to determine if this type of school schedule will be beneficial.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.