Year-Round Education: Is It Worth the Hassle?
This paper presents findings of a study that examined the impact of year-round education on academic achievement in a large Utah school district. Student-achievement data for years 1990-95 were compared by type of school schedule. A case-study component examined the impact of school schedules used by two elementary schools–one adhered to a traditional calendar and the other followed a multitrack year-round calendar. Data were gathered through interviews with all four administrators and all six fifth-grade teachers and through a survey of 114 fifth-grade students and 123 parents. Multitrack schools appeared to provide a slightly superior educational experience for students in terms of enhancing reading ability as well as in terms of increasing the bottom of the range of scores within a schooi. Parents of both srhool types generally supported their respective school programs and calendars. Student academic performance in multitrack year-round schools over a 6-year period exceeded the performance of students in traditional schocls, while nonacademic outcomes were roughly equal. The findings also identified issues that required more attention–issues of support services, inservice and professional development, staff collaboration and communication, and vacation time. However, administrators believed that these difficulties could be overcome by utilizing different communication strategies, by changing the timing of inservice activities, by extending school activities into the community, or by sponsoring a variety of public events. Some criteria for examining the efficiency of school schedules are suggested. Clarification of the distinctions between those school differences that are conceptual and those that are operational is important. Three tables are included. (Contains 24 references.) (LM1) Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made .from the original document. YEAR-ROUND EDUCATION: IS IT WORTH THE HASSLE? Carolyn M. Shields Department of Educational Studies, The University of British Columbia, 2126 Main Mall, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4 Phone: 822-6381 email: Cshields@ubc.ca fax: 822-9297 A paper presented at the UBC Robson Square lecture series, January 1996. Running Head: Is it worth the hassle?… 0.0 S, DEPARTMENT,OF EDUCATION TiCD CATIONAL RESOURCES INFORLIATION CEN1ER tERIC) nts document cuis been repiothe ed d’i 1 received born PH, polso0 nri 01q,ninni,lborl orqinaling it CJ himor change% hAve bm. 01.1110 1. mprnee rvprorluci.or nillahtv 0. at!. 0 . * Ion urneol d tnli,”,! olliime OE RI v..,,Inon Or pow; “PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (MCI Is it worth the hassle? 2 Year-round schooling is just another innovation that the Ministry is trying to implement on the backs of administrators.” The year-round schedule is a more natural way of learning. It is an advantage as it gives us a forum to debate the whole issue of change. Are we setting ourselves up to always deliver education cheaper? Why are we doing this? YEAR-ROUND EDUCATION: IS IT WORTH THE HASSLE? For approximately 25 years, a number of school districts throughout the United States have experimented with a variety of forms of year-round schooling. By 1992, it was estimated (Mydans, 1991) that 1.3 million students in 23 sta .es were being educated in some adaptation of a year-round model. In Canada, although the topic of year-round schooling has been studied with varying degrees of intensity for most of this century, very few projects have actually been implemented. In 1991, Williams Lake, British Columbia began to implement single-track yearround schooling, followed in 1992 by a few schools and districts in Alberta, with Canada’ first multi-track school, Terry Fox Junior High School, opening in Calgary in July, 1995. In November 1995, the BC Ministry of Education introduced a plan to offer financial incentives to both schools and districts willing to implement what it calls an efficiency schedule for a trial period of five years. Nevertheless, the comments cited at the beginning of this page and numerous others suggest that there is considerable conflict concerning the merits of introducing difference academic calendars into BC schools. rurther, it appears that finding useful material in the available literature requires considerable diligent and careful separation of fact from opinion. It is sometimes difficult to determine the relevance of the literature because there have been few yearround schooling projects in Canada. In addition much of the work which has been done elsewhere lacks clarity concerning the effects of different calendars and accompanying instructional changes, the type of schedule which is being discussed, whether the perceptions being described are based on experience and knowledge, or on impressions and hearsay; especially there has been lack of clarity concerning conceptual as opposed to operational issues. Is it worth the hassle? 3 This paper will present research conducted in Utah (the state with the second highest number of year-round schools) and will attempt to separate many of the issues identified above. In the first phase of the study, which is still ongoing, I have examined student achievement data by school type for a large school district over a six year period to determine the effects of different schedules. I also studied the impact of three different elementary-school schedules (traditional, single-track year-round, and multi-track year-round) by interviewing administrators and fifth grade teachers, and by surveying the fifth grade students and their parents. At present I am enlarging the study to include six Utah schools, six Alberta schools, and whatever BC schools choose to implement an efficiency schedule. Following a brief overview of the relevant literature, the presentation and analysis of the data, the paper will identify, for purposes of further discussion, some possible criteria for the examination of efficiency schedules, some important conceptual issues which need further clarification, and some of the implications of the present study. OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE Existing literature identifies six major issues related to school-year organizational practices. Of major concern to policy makers, educators, and the general public is the impact of different organizational arrangements on students in terms of academic learning as well as student attitudes and behaviors. Other issues have been identified related to the impact on educational personnel (administrators, teachers, and district level), the effect on parents and families, on community life, and on facility use. The fiscal implications, costs and benefits, constitute a critical consideration. Finally, the role of policy agencies and governing bodies is raised occasionally. Many studies report that year-round schooling has a positive impact on student grades (Baker, 1990; Bradford, 1993; Peletier, 1991; Perry, 1993). Others find neither positive nor negative impact (Goren & Carriedo, 1986; Haze Iton et al, 1992; Zykowski et al. 1991). In fact, only one study (Quinlan et al. 1987) reported some negative effects on student achievement. However, the complexity of the effects of different calendars on student achievement is frequently Is it wo;-th the hassle? 4 4,1 confounded in the literature. Sometimes there is no indication whether single-track or multi-track arrangements have been studied. Some studies mention that a changed calendar has been accompanied by changes in instructional strategies or curriculum (interdisciplinary or thematic instruction, team teaching, etc.); but, little attention is paid to the nature of the changes or the extent to which a similar change without a new calendar might be associated with similar differences in student achievement. In terms of non-academic effects, in general the research indicates that year-round education is associated with positive student attitudes (Alkin, 1983; Baker, 1990; Gandara. 1992), with improved student attendance (Bradford, 1993; White, 1987), and with reduced vandalism and crime (Brekke, 1983; Merino, 1983). The literature also identifies an increased workload for administrators (Alkin, 1983; Shields & Oberg, 1995), and both positive and negative impacts on teachers (Christie, 1989; Webster & Nyberg, 1992). The situation is similar for parents, although the large majority of parents who have experienced both traditional and year-round calendars support the latter (Alkin, 1983; Zykowski et al, 1991). In fact, many articles focus on pre-implementation concerns -concerns which Shields & Oberg (1995); and others (Alkin, 1983) have found tend not to persist after implementation. Other reports claim “success” or “failure” after only one year of implementation (Baker, 1990; Greenwell et al. 1993), with almost exclusive and inappropriate reliance on student achievement as measured by standardized test scores. Other literature falls under the heading of advocacy, both for (Ballinaer, 1987; Brekke, 1985) and against (British Columbia Teachers Federation, 1994; Kirman, 1991). Finally, the consensus with respect to fiscal costs and benefits is that single-track yearround schools may (but do not have to) cost more than traditional schools; indeed, this is especially related to the type of extra or intercession programs schools may choose to operate Multi-track schools, in contrast, seem to cost more to operate than would the same school on a traditional calendar, but significant costs may accrue to a district in terms of per pupil
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