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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Longer School Days / Longer School Years?

Longer School Days / Longer School Years?

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Ok, so our esteemed Governor here in New Jersey (Chris Christie, in case you're unaware) has indicated he wants our fair state to consider longer school days and longer school years. Details of his proposal are not yet available (like who will pay for it) but I wonder - how many folks out there have a school year longer than 180 days and/or go into the summer months? Did you experience the change personally? What is your opinion about longer school days and possibly shortening "summer recess," or even, going to school year round? Thanks for your input!

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think it will inevitably come to year round school, but I wish we had more of the "term" schedules like they do in the UK- Six weeks and a break of a week or two, with a slightly longer break in the summer. I think kids need opportunities for outside learning that summer camps offer, and the experiential learning that goes on in that sort of environment. My kids have been to cooking camp, tech camp and learned to program, summer swim team, Sea World Camp, science camp at the Franklin Institute, and plain old YMCA camps, and they had experiences they never would have had otherwise. We've travelled and had great times.

That said, not every family does this in the summer or can afford to. Work schedules stay the same, and finding useful camps that run consecutively aren't always easy to find and drop off after kids reach 8th grade or so. Camps can be really expensive as well.

We also know kids lose a lot of learning over the summer, so having less of a summer gap would be beneficial. But any increase in time means increase in teacher pay, air conditioning for buildings not built to run all summer, etc. not to mention other infrastructure costs. It's gonna be a tough transition, but I think it will need to happen sometime.

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator

Thanks Whitney, I feel exactly the same way. I just found this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year-round_school_in_the_United_States

...and several more that have helpful stats and blurbs on relevant research. This one is particularly good:

http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/year-round-schooling/

Last paragraph: "Despite a lack of conclusive evidence showing that year-round schooling is able to dramatically raise student achievement, the approach is becoming an attractive strategy for more and more schools and districts."

Sounds about right...

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