Every year parents must determine what type of school will provide the best education available for their children. School districts make decisions about the direction and quality of the education they are providing. With the growing importance of improving academic achievement and standardized testing scores, school districts are faced with the yearly task of creating a school calendar that they feel will best meet their achievement goals or state standards. Some school districts are turning to Year Round Educational plans, also called Modified School plans, in hopes of achieving these goals.
According to the National Association of Year Round Education forty-seven states in the United States have Year-Round Education Programs. There are over 3,000 year round schools that are educating 2. 3 million students. (YRE Statistical Summaries 2005-2006). Although Year Round Education has its opponents who worry about the loss of extra curricular activities and summer job opportunities there is no conclusive evidence that either of these issues benefit or hurt the education of students.
(Kelly,2006) Providing an education for students should be focused on the aspects of learning the fundamentals of reading, writing and other subjects that will enhance their performance as active participants in their community. Debating the issues of sports and summer work should not be considered when determining what type of school calendar should be used to educate students. Education should be made the priority, not just a back up for someone who does not make it professional sports.
Determining whether a traditional or a year round education plan is better for students requires a considerable amount of research and a sincere interest in what benefits will be provided in each program. For parents and educators to make an informed decision they must first understand each plan. A traditional school year is made up of nine months in school and three months off for an extended vacation. A year round education system holds classes for 45 days then has a short 15 day break. Other plans for year round school include the 60-20 and the 90-30 plans.
Both the year round plan and the traditional teach the same curriculum and require between 170 and 180 days in the classroom per year, depending on the particular states legislative requirement. (Lambeth, 2005) National holidays are scheduled accordingly in both plans. One of the greatest benefits of the year round plan is the option to have “multiple tracks”. “Tracks” are groups of students who start and end school on given dates. Each “track” has a specified vacation time. (Lambeth, 2005) Schools that are overcrowded would benefit from having three or four “tracks” per year.
This is called “multi tracking”. “Multi tracking” would allow a school which is equipped to accommodate 750 students to serve almost 1,000. With one “track” of students on vacation at all times classrooms will be free to host another “track”. Schools who out grow their student capacity face millions of dollars in construction cost for new facilities. (Gisler& Eberts, 2006). Multi-tracking would also reduce the number of students in a classroom while at the same time decreasing the student teacher ratio.
Decreasing the student teacher ratio will allow more one on one time for each child, which is commonly known to be the most effective way to reach at risk students. As enticing as “multi tracking” may sound financially, according to Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts in their article “Year Round Education”, “Students in year-round schools that have everyone on the same track have shown improved achievement scores over those in traditional schools. ” While other comparisons of achievement between the two plans have had “mixed and inconclusive results. ” (2006)