Year-round education, also known as year-round schooling (YRS), is the concept of maintaining a full-year calendar of educational coursework. It can be contrasted with educational calendars that include extended breaks, often during particular seasons such as the summer or holidays, which some advocates and researchers believe results in a regression in student learning (especially for at-risk students) that has been termed as a "summer slide" or "summer learning gap."
- Goal: Increase student retention of acquired knowledge
- Goal: Increase academic proficiency of at-risk students
- Goal: Increase the utilization of education facility space
- Goal: Reduce unnecessary redundancy in student curricula
- Goal: Increase the effectiveness of school scheduling
Currently, School District A is following a calendar that does not offer classes during several summer months, which is generally reserved for vacation. Instead, School District A decides to adopt a policy of year-round education, in which short breaks from classes are interspersed throughout the year. After adopting a year-round schedule, despite having the same number of school days, School District A finds that students retain more information between grade levels than under the prior calendar, in which students' learning regressed during the summer months.
Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:
- Loss of extended staff and student vacation or full-time employment periods (offset by more frequent vacation days during year)
- Increases in operating costs (depending on cost structure, shutting down for several months may be cheaper)
- Potential conflicts in scheduling among families with children on different academic calendars
- Potential conflicts in extra-curricular activities between districts with different academic calendars
Other considerations as to whether or how to implement this policy include:
- Practicality of year-round education (e.g., climate or societal factors that make education during particular months impractical)
- Staff collective bargaining rights (e.g., unfeasibility of altering school year due to collective bargaining rights)
- Rural nature of district (e.g., where students require time off during peak agricultural seasons)
- Professional opportunities (e.g., identifying alternative opportunities to replace summer jobs and internships)
- Schedules (i.e., dividing students into staggered, multi-track schedules to reduce class sizes vs. single-tracked, identical schedules)
According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, as of the 2011-2012 school year, there were 3,700 public schools across the nation operating on a year-round calendar cycle, reaching more than 2,000,000 students in 45 states.
Relevant entities who support or are likely to support this policy include:
Relevant entities who oppose or are likely to oppose this policy include:
On its website, the National Education Association notes the following resources on year-round education:
- "All-Day, All-Year Schools. In this article, Ruy Teixeira (The Century Foundation, 2004) shows that when year-round education is accompanied by enrichment and remedial programs and other extensions of the year — as opposed to simply stretching out the school year, but with smaller breaks — achievement effects tend to be positive.
- Student Segregation and Achievement Tracking in Year-Round Schools. Authors Ross E. Mitchell and Douglas E. Mitchell present this case study, which reveals substantial differences in the characteristics of students and teachers across the four attendance tracks of eight YRE schools in one large California school district.
- Alternative Calendars: Extended Learning and Year-Round Programs. Authors E. A. Palmer and A. E. Bemis provide a comprehensive updated review of the literature and research on effective models of year-round education.
- Year-Round Education. Author Tyler Weaver explores the possible benefits and the points to consider before adopting year-round education. (ERIC Digest, Number 68)"
- Year-Round Schools: In Brief. A June 2014 policy brief on year-round education by Rebecca R. Skinner, Specialist in Education Policy, of the U.S. Congressional Research Service.