According to Don Patterson, a member ofthe Albuquerque, New Mexico School Board that tried and rejected year roundschooling, “Short term memory loss is very acute. Studies show that the only discerniblesummer loss occurs in the first two to three weeks. So, by introducing all these multiplebreaks, all you’re doing is maximizing forgetting. ” It has also been proven that forgettingand relearning are part of the learning process. Gaps in student’s learning begin with lossof context retention in the subject area, which begins within 24-48 hours, unless the newinformation is reinforced or applied immediately. After a month without reinforcement,about 80% of what a student has learned is recently lost.
Research indicates what weretain depends on student motivation and teacher-effectiveness and isn’t limited to a timefactor (Time to Learn). It is quite obvious that YRE does not improve the learningprocess, as those who support YRE claim. Supporters of the year round school systembelieve there are many benefits in the program for students and teachers. Advocates ofYRE say families have greater flexibility in planning vacations that often cost less.
Parents that support YRE feel that the shorter, more frequent vacations allowed studentsto remain focused and enthusiastic (Prisoners of Time). Angie Maniscalco, a 5th gradestudent at Fairmount Elementary in St. Louis, says, “Kids should go to school nine weeksand be off three because, kids get bored in the summer. They get sick of swimming everysingle day going skating or basically doing anything. I go to school for nine weeks, thenget off three” (Should Schools). Supporters also believe parents who are working outsidethe home can take advantage of year-round care for their children.
Teachers that supportthe idea of YRE feel that the more frequent breaks reduce burnout, and that the frequentbreaks during the school year enable teachers to visit and learn from other programs andother teachers (Prisoners of Time). Those against YRE have different views about whatyear-round schooling will do for the students and the teachers. In year round schools,middle, elementary and high school students often have different schedules. Whilevacationing in the off-season may work well, when children are on different schedules,vacations can be more of a problem. YRE can certainly disrupt family life.
With differentages of students, vacations are difficult to schedule. For example, children onnon-traditional schedules may miss out on Boy Scout Camp, because their summervacation falls in the month of August and the activity is programmed for July. Schoolactivities can suffer as well. One study found that band, chorus, drama, and studentgovernment were particularly hit hard (Never Ending School).
While there may be somebenefits to YRE, it is obvious that there are many situations where the year roundcalendar will cause confusion in the lives of those involved. Perhaps the most debatedissue in YRE is that of the achievement scores. Supporters of YRE claim that studentperformance in year round schools is much greater. They believe that year round schoolswill yield higher achievement scores that traditional schools.
Many advocates for YREclaim there are studies by the National Association for Year Round Education that reportthat year round schools have a very positive impact on student grades. Althoughsupporters boast high achievement scores on tests, and higher student grades, thoseagainst YRE disagree (Year Round Education: Is). Critics of YRE say there is noevidence for higher academic gains under YRE as compared to traditional schools. Studies and test scores repeatedly show little improvement by students in year roundschools. When test scores do increase, many educators hesitate to attribute increases tothe new calendar (Time to Learn).
Many of these studies, have been conducted by theNational Association for Year Round Education (NAYRE), a highly biased organization,whose consultants earn significant amounts of income by promotion YRE. RobertRosenfield, a systems analyst from Potomac, Maryland, was so concerned at what heconsidered to be misrepresented data by the NAYRE that he analyzed a substantialnumber of YRE evaluations in a 1994 paper. He concluded, “Each study presented in theNAYRE review has either been incompletely characterized, or otherwise contradicted byother studies within the same state or district. Nothing in the NAYRE reviewdemonstrates any academic achievement gain by changing to a year-round calendar.” In a1993 .