Extend the School Year, Extend Opportunities
“I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!” These words are echoed many times during the summer by teenagers and children around America. Hours are wasted away wandering mindlessly around the house, sitting in front of a television screen, or simply sleeping to make the time pass by faster. Meanwhile, across the world students are spending their time in school studying and getting ahead, while America is continually dropping in its rankings. The aches and pains of boredom during the seemingly endless summer could be put to a stop by simply making the school year longer. Furthermore, other positive changes would be seen by lengthening the learning season. By extending both the primary and secondary school academic school year, Americans would be aided toward success and global competition and the ineffective structure of the American school year would easily be refined. Extending the academic school year would be a very efficient assistance to guide American students and point them in the direction of success.
Extending the school year would help Americans succeed and compete globally with other elite countries. On average, American students go to school for 180 days a year. This is very short compared to the school years of other competitive countries such as Japan, whose school year consists of 243 days, Israel, 216 days, and Australia, 200 days (First, Make the School Day and Year Longer). 190 days makes up the Finland school calendar, North and South Korea spend 220 days in school, and China’s school year is averaged to about 230 days (Hughes). These countries are very competitive and are steadily rising in rankings and economy, while America is falling. According to the National Commission on Excellence in Education, America is declining rapidly in academics as well, warning of a “rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people” (National Policies for Improvement). The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, tests students around the world in science, reading and math every three years. The last test administered in 2009 portrayed very inadequate results on behalf of the US. In science, America pitifully ranked 24th place; the top scores in science came from China, Finland, Japan, and Korea. America jumped up only a few spots to place 18th in the reading test. With the top rankings covered by China, Korea, and Finland, the reading test was another shocking disappointment for the US. Finally, math, led once again by China and Korea, showed the saddest results of all, with America barely making it in the rankings at 32nd place (PISA Test Results). The international tests administered by PISA show a direct correlation between the length of the school year and test scores; on average, the greater the length of the country’s school year, the higher the ranking appeared to be. With higher rankings in math, reading, and science, a country has the significant ability of controlling and developing central fields of study such as technology, medicine, engineering, and literature. With this ability comes economic prosperity and heightened global power. Because of the shocking low rankings of the US, many Americans, especially those with professions revolving around education, are alarmed. One of the most common suggestions from many organizations, including the National Commission of Excellence, is a longer school year (National Policies for Improvement). American students could benefit from the longer school year, as it would provide more education and would also give them more opportunity to become involved with school-related activities that support and parallel their core academic subjects (Davis). In fact, some schools in the US that have already extended their school year have seen these results and other positive changes as well. For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools opened accelerated-learning academies five years ago,...
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