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Year-Round Schooling

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Over the last several years, heated debate has surrounded the issue of year-round schooling in the United States. Despite the passage of decades, however, many fundamental issues in this controversy remain unresolved and the literature on the subject continues to be mired in inconsistency and contradiction. Year-Round SchoolingWriting in 1978, three authors noted that their review of the literature on year-rounding schooling, and their continuing research of opinions on the subject among teachers and parents, indicated “a powerful effect of liking whatever one is doing”. Thus, while parents and teachers involved with year-round schedules found this option to be far superior, those working with traditional calendar schools extolled the virtues of their system with matched enthusiasm.

Two decades later, one could easily reach the same conclusion about the state of the literature and the debate about year-round schools. Indeed, the literature on one of the most important policy questions facing many school systems in America continues to be comprised primarily of commentaries from informed supporters or detractors, with few direct contributions from specialists with actual experience working with year-round schools. Thus, in 1998, Domenech, a Virginia-based superintendent of schools, published a commentary enthusiastically championing the advantages of year-round schooling. The author asserted that, not only did year-round schedules make more efficient use of teachers’ and students’ time and of school facilities than did traditional schedules, the year-round option also more effectively educated students, providing them with a “continuity of instruction” that was absent in school calendars that included a long summer break which caused students to forget much of what they had learned during the school year. Moreover, the author insisted that the more frequent breaks allowed in year-round systems provided valuable “ intercessions”—during which lagging students could engage in “catch-up,” while other benefited from extended and enriched instructional programs, while authors keenly pursued their individual interests.

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