The debate about year-round schools vs. traditional-calendar schools is back in the media spotlight.
An article today by the Associated Press, includes the Wake County school system in a look at the debate whether year-round schools help with academics. The article also looks at how the year-round calendar is waning in popularity in some districts.
"Year-round schools, which once seemed like a panacea for everything from low test scores to overcrowding, have proven to be a mixed bag," according to the article. "And some places that once embraced them — including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and parts of California — have returned to traditional calendars."
Historically, one of the arguments for year-round schooling is that it can deal with the problem of "summer slide" when students suffer academic losses over the long summer break.
The article says that research on whether learning improves in year-round schools is mixed, with some year-round schools reporting gains and others finding that kids on traditional schedules do better.
Esther Fusco, a professor at Hofstra University's School of Education, Health and Human Services, says in the article that overall, "research suggests that students in high-needs districts and those who have disabilities do better in year-round learning situations. This is logical because these students do not have the down time that occurs over the summer. But the results are not very significant. I have not seen any study that shows students greatly improve."
The other benefit from year-round schools, at least the multi-track ones, is the capacity gain. This comes, the article notes, with typically higher costs to run year-round schools and challenges making major repairs.
"We definitely use the year-round calendar to maximize space and address some capacity issues," said Wake schools' spokesman Mike Charbonneau in the article. "We have had a rapidly growing school system for the last 10 years."