FRIEND OR FIEND?
A main concern for the American youth is the kind of education they are receiving. Over the past 40 years, the debate over reformatting the school year has been constantly discussed. Many schools have switched to year round schooling systems in the hope that students would retain more information over the shorter breaks. However, it seems that neither traditional nor year round school is truly an effective form of education. Though there are benefits and drawbacks to both year round school and traditional schools, some alternate plans could potentially educate students much more efficiently. The idea of year round school (YRS) is often misunderstood, as people believe that it is every day all year except for holidays. However, school is considered year round so long as the summer vacation lasts fewer than eight weeks (Hellerman 1). Thus, a school system that gives extended breaks and winter and spring holidays and has only a month and a half summer vacation can be considered year round. This arrangement, however, is not the most common form of year round education: Year round education organizes the school year to provide more continuous learning by dividing the long summer into shorter, more frequent breaks Students in a year round program attend the same classes and receive the same amount of instruction as students on a nine-month calendar (usually 180 days) The year round calendar is organized into instructional blocks and vacation periods that are evenly distributed across twelve months (McMillen 1). The goal of YRS is to make the school year more efficient. If students retain more over shorter, more frequent breaks, the teachers can spend less time reviewing when school starts again. Using the time saved from less reviewing, students can learn more new information.
Currently, there are two well-known types of year round education: single track and multi track. Single track is the most widespread kind of year round school. It can follow one of several formats including the 45 15 plan, the 60 20 plan or the Orchard Plan. Students who attend schools on the 45 15 plan go to school for four equal groups of 45 school days followed by 15 days of vacation. The 60 20 plan is very similar to the 45 15 plan; students attend school for 60 days then have a 20 day vacation. Rather than four groups of school/vacation days in a cycle, there are only three. The Orchard Plan is considered single track but resembles more of a multi track schedule. The school is open and operating for eleven months. Students are divided into five tracks. They go to school for 60 days followed by 15 days of vacation. Everyone is off from school for the month of July and for two weeks at winter and spring holidays.
Multi track year round school uses several groups of students who rotate being in school or on vacation at different times. Often, schools will use the 45 15 plan or the 60 20 plan for four groups of students. While three groups are in school, one is on vacation. Using these methods of rotation, a school can accommodate more students. According to Terri McFadden; "Year round schools that use the multi track model can educate more students without having to spend millions on new buildings" (1). Space, however, is not the only reason schools have been tempted to switch to a year round schedule. It has been said that students in year round school learn more; "Some schools have switched to multi track in order to reduce class size, a proven way to improve education" (McFadden 1). Studies comparing year round schools with traditional schools have shown little or no difference among test scores.
The benefits of year round education make for a very convincing argument for schools to go year round. Usually, the first feature to attract districts is that the program could potentially save some money; By replacing two month vacations with shorter breaks throughout the year, they found...