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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Extending the school year?

Extending the school year?

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I am a third grade teacher in Eastern Montana and am wondering what the feelings out there from other educators on extending the school year? I would love to hear what others are thinking, I know there are pros and cons on the issue, but I have to say I am not really for it. I do believe we have been pushing our kids to the limit as it is, kids need more time to be kids and use imagination and creativity- as I see public schools are losing that. We expect so much of our kids, I think it would be great for the educators, as most of think there aren't enough hours in a day to get the things we need to get taught or accomplished. However, I think it would be very hard on the students we teach. I know in our community the high school is seeing higher drop out rates than ever before. With that being said, I think it will only become a larger problem. I have three kids of my own and feel as if we don't get enough time at home as it is. As an educator I also think teachers need that down time from teaching. I use my "down time" in the summer to go back school, keep up with the current trends in education, and work on my personal teaching assignment. (Working in my classroom...) I invite discussion on this topic, I would love to hear from all- those that are for it and against. Trish

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Lyndee's picture

While I agree that summer break is great to have for my personal life, I feel that it would be extremely beneficial to a student's education to expand to a year round schedule. The summer gap consistently leads to a review period at the begining of every school year. By extending the year and providing smaller breaks through out the year, the learning cycle is able to be built upon continuously. However, I think one major disadvantage to extending the year would be the loss of summer school programs. Students who are at the cusp of passing, but need a little boost would then be required to either permaturely advance, or lose an entire year.

Jason's picture

I know that you mentioned there are positives and negatives, but I have to wonder what is possible with current times. I find it hard to believe that towns would be willing to agree to new budgets and contracts that would require increased funding. It seems as though if this was going to work it would require a national set schedule rather than by a town to town basis. As mentioned in other comments, every school has their own schedule. The U.S. often gets compared to other nations, but other nations are not made up of states that have their own individual laws, ie China. I am not suggesting we go communist, I am only thinking that this idea is not practical based on our current status both politically and educationally.

Tammy Clayton's picture

For the last several years there has been discussion about adopting a year round calendar for our school system. I was excited when I read Julie's comments about how the year round schedule worked in her system.

I think there are some great advantages to the the year round calendar. I know that many students in my county would benefit from a nutritional stand point. Many children come from homes that are experiencing tremendous financial stress. Many parents depend on free meals at shcool for the nourishment of their children. If there were shorter more frequent breaks from school, these students would not be deprived of wholesome meals for too long at the time. I worry about the students in my county over our long summer break which is at least 8 weeks.

At the beginning of each year I spend a considerable amount of time reteaching what was taught the previous year. I would think that if the summer break was shorter the students would not loose as much knowledge and less time at the beginning of the year would have to be spent on reteaching.

I also believe that after a 2 or 3 week break the students would come back refreshed and excited about being back at school. I am thinking that student behavior would be less of an issue if students had more frequent breaks from school.

After reading Julie's comments, I will embrace an extended year schedule with a positive attitude if our system decides to adopt one.

Anna Forrester's picture

I have to say that I am also in favor of taking small planned breaks at several times during the year. It gives you and the students a chance to renew and rejuvenate. As a teacher, I do a much better job when I come back refreshed from taking a break. I think because our jobs are so all consuming and so exhausting that small breaks are needed. We wear so many different hats as teachers. It is easy to become exhausted from just trying to keep up. I feel that many small breaks would help to prevent the "teacher burnout" that we all see at times.

Nancee Gormley's picture
Nancee Gormley
8&9th grade Family Consumer Sciences teacher from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

I have a feeling that we will gradually move towards a longer school year. More frequent breaks will be a requirement to keep teachers energized and motivated to start fresh each year.

Brenda Willingham's picture

I am in favor of year round school. During June and July, our borderline students lose the academic gains made during the school year. The frequent breaks are also a plus.

Wanda Byrd's picture

I am all for students education, and love the fact that congress is showing interest in our system. But extending the school year is not the solution. Our kids need the time off in the summer to recooperate and spend time with family. I also believe that we as teachers need that break to... help keep us sain.

Wanda Byrd's picture

I am an advocate for education, and I believe that it is important. I also feel and believe that family time and leisure is important in the lives of students. In other words, extending the school year isn't a good choice. I feel that our students will be exhausted from the extension, and more kids will drop out. Our kids need the time away, and we as teachers need breaks as well, and time with our family.

Paul Shimek's picture

I appreciate all of the talk of changing to year around school, adding or not to the school year or day, and all other options discribed. There are many interesting ideas out there.
Although I think we are putting the cart ahead of the horse so to speak. I think the real question is are we using the time we have now as well as we could. Throwing time at the problem many times seems like throwing money at the problem. It won't be any more effective if we don't use it wisely. Why is it that we are not meeting the needs of the students now with the time we have? Are there ways that the time could be better spent? Many times when we pump more money into a problem it all goes to the top for "bonuses" rather than to solve the problem. I would hate for us to put in a lot more time and not get any more results from it.

Brandon Knapp's picture

I could be wrong (known to happen a lot) but isn't one of the main holdbacks for schools in the northern half of the country financial? The cost of outfitting schools with A/C units would be tremendous. I teach in NJ and even though our school has air conditioning, we hardly use it except for in June. Many schools that are over 10 or 15 years old do not have this luxury which means the building get very hot in the summer. When students are sitting in an uncomfortable environment, they are less likely to learn. Retro fitting a school that is not equipped with forced air duct work would be a tremendous burden on the tax payers. We all know that money talks and when confronted with keeping the schedule the same or changing the schedule (which would probably allow for less material loss over the breaks) but increasing taxes, I think the majority would rather save money.

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