While the school year and summer vacation are long-time institutions here in America, they aren’t global. A handful of countries run school year-round. Japan and Australia both general do, just to name the most prominent two. In both of those countries, the school term runs for 11 months divided into trimesters or quarters by breaks a week or two long. By comparison, the US’s 180-day school year is among the world’s shortest, a tidbit many say is contributing to our falling place in world education standards.
In Syracuse, NY, four schools designated by the state as ‘persistently struggling’ academically have put together plan proposals that include converting to a year-round schedule. The plans were put forward by ‘community engagement teams,’ essentially an expanded PTA, and submitted to district superintendent Sharon Contraras.
Contraras and Syracuse’s mayor, Stephanie Miner both say they would support the plans if the schools decide to put them into action. Contraras can make that decision herself, as under New York state law, the schools’ poor showings in standardized tests give her unilateral power over their organization, but would rather leave it to the community and the teachers’ union. The plans are still in very early stages.
Still to be worked out are a large number of logistics: Increased demand on teachers, buildings which would need air conditioning to be usable through the New York summers, and transportation contracts are only a few samples of a very long to-do list.
But the benefits might be worth it. Studies abroad indicate that students in year-round models perform better, retain more of what they’re taught, and need less of the wasteful ‘readjustment’ period after breaks. Also worth mentioning is that students in need of the food and health care assistance schools provide would have it available year-round, without a three-month gap every summer.
These four schools, should they choose to implement the year-round plans, would likely not do so earlier than the 2018 school year.