Would Your Child Get Better Grades Without a Summer Break?

Published  July 03, 2009 |
Would Your Child Get Better Grades Without a Summer Break?
Learn about the pros and cons surrounding year-round schools through studies arguing that students perform better in school without a summer break.
With increasingly demanding standards, competitive college acceptance expectations, and more rigorous educational guidelines, many public school students are striving for higher grades than ever before. Recent studies assert that the key to boosting a child's GPA involves providing students with more consistent educational opportunities. Fundamentally, more consistent opportunities are best achieved by providing students with year-round public instruction.
In fact, according to NAYRE, Specialists in Time and Learning, educational studies prove that nearly all students experience various forms of summer learning loss during the longer seasonal time away from school. In further detail, a team of psychology experts at the University of Missouri thoroughly evaluated the impact of summer vacation on students' test scores. As a result of these investigations, The study found that summer learning loss is a reality, that all students (including the best) lose in math and spelling skills, and many, though not all, lose in reading skills over the traditional summer.
 
As a result of these, along with other expert findings, many educators and parents are supporting new propositions for year-round public school classes. These initiatives are forcing many community members to question: will students earn higher grades without a summer vacation?
 
The Year Round Educational Model
 
With new plans for year-round programs, public schools have individually, and often uniquely, created their own modified instructional calendars. An example of a year-round calendar typically involves three solid weeks of classes (Monday through Friday), followed by a one to two week break from school. As a result, students can enjoy more frequent breaks from school, as opposed to engaging in one long and extended holiday during the summer months. Ultimately, students are able to benefit from the same amount of vacation time away from school; however, the vacation time is broken up into smaller and more frequent segments, allowing students to more consistently engage in their educational classes without the common, and detrimental, cognitive impacts of an extended summer vacation.
 
While these programs are being celebrated in many areas, most communities have only been able to establish trial year-round programs in elementary schools, as the middle and high school years pose more scheduling difficulties. With sports, extra-curricular activities, and other demands, the possibilities of year-round schools beyond 5th or 6th grade are relatively unknown.
 
The Benefits of Year Round Classes
 
Although the argument over year-round public school agendas is highly debated, as many believe that students and families socially and personally benefit from a lengthy summer holiday, there are a variety of studies that offer extensive data proving success rates for year-round schooling.
 
As NAYRE further reveals, many schools across the country have recently implemented trial programs in order to verify the case-by-case effectiveness of the year-round model. For example, as Dr. Carolyn Kneese of Texas A&M University found in an analysis of over 30 trial programs, year-round schools demonstrated Effective maintenance and improvement of the overall academic performance of students participating in a year-round education program in comparison to those on the traditional calendar." In specifically analyzing the improvements reported in year-round models, experts have found that students attending year-round schools experience incredible benefits:
  • With a more consistent and on-going learning process, teachers can reduce the time spent on reviewing previous lessons.
  • Students can participate in available remediation programs during the more frequent school breaks / intervals.
  • Nearly all students have demonstrated academic improvement in a year-round model; specifically, students from homes that are not supportive of educational pursuits demonstrate marked benefits.
  • Students' attitudes are often more optimistic and motivated regarding school work / school issues in year-round school.
  • Student attendance is generally higher at year-round schools.
Additional Year Round Perks
 
While the year round schedules certainly offer an array of educational perks, supporters of such programs assert that year-round schools can contribute even greater benefits.
 
As NWREL reveals, year-round schools actually help boost the economic effectiveness of schools, as many communities have implemented year-round programs in order to combat issues of over-crowding. In such cases, public school leaders can avoid investing dollars into building new school facilities; instead of new construction, existing schools simply trade their students and teachers. For example, students in group A would attend school for several weeks, followed by a break. During group A's break, group B would attend the school facility for their several weeks of school. As Group B attends their break, group A returns for classes. Adding to the financial benefits, NWREL reports additional gains:
  • Declined reports of teacher fatigue and burn-out
  • Teachers are able to earn added incomes during their more frequent break periods, allowing for decreased teacher stress and struggle
  • Funds that would have been alternatively used for new construction can be used for new materials and / or hiring more teachers
  • Most parents, teachers, and students of current year-round models report positive feelings and feedback of the adjusted schedule
With its many benefits and proponents, year-round schooling may have students, parents, and teachers saying goodbye to summer vacations.

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