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Tue Aug 7, 2012, 12:43 AM

To Increase Learning Time, Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year

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According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 170 schools -more than 140 of them charter schools -across the country have extended their calendars in recent years to 190 days or longer.

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A growing group of education advocates is agitating for more time in schools, arguing that low-income children in particular need more time to catch up as schools face increasing pressure to improve student test scores.

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Education advocates have been calling for more school time at least since the 1983 "Nation at Risk" report presented an apocalyptic vision of American education.

Teachers' unions, parents who want to preserve summers for family vacations and those who worry that children already come under too much academic stress argue that extended school time is not the answer. Research on longer school days or years also shows mixed results.

But studies also show that during the summer break, students -particularly those from low-income families -tend to forget what they learned in the school year. Getting back to school early, supporters of a longer calendar say, is one of the best ways to narrow an achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Full: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/education/some-schools-adopting-longer-years-to-improve-learning.xml

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Reply To Increase Learning Time, Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year (Original post)
alp227 Aug 2012 OP
FBaggins Aug 2012 #1
LWolf Aug 2012 #2
NYC_SKP Aug 2012 #3
LWolf Aug 2012 #6
NYC_SKP Aug 2012 #8
Igel Aug 2012 #5
LWolf Aug 2012 #7
Igel Aug 2012 #4
proud2BlibKansan Aug 2012 #9

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue Aug 7, 2012, 06:06 AM

1. I doubt that ten days has much impact on any summer-break effect

I'd also be interested in seeing how such an effect has anything to do with income gaps.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 7, 2012, 06:31 PM

2. What has the best impact on the summer-break effect

is a single-track year-round calendar, which gives more frequent, shorter breaks.

It greatly decreases student losses and does away with both student and teacher burn-out.

I know this, because I've worked 3 different year-round calendars. My favorite had me working most of the summer, with extra breaks spring, fall, and winter. I liked this, because in the summer I still had daylight left at the end of a work day, and because the weather is better for enjoying a break spring and fall. In winter, I got to spend many of the darkest days of the year at home.

It's more effective than simply adding days, although I WISH my current district would add some days. They keep cutting days to cut the budget from a "normal" calendar that only offers 167 student contact days to begin with; and 4 of those are conference days.

I have worked calendars that offered students 190 days, and those were effective, as well. As a budget issue, though, the year-round calendar gets more bang for the buck. It's just not possible when the general community, and many teachers, none of whom have actually experienced it, are so adamantly opposed to "giving up their summer."

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Response to LWolf (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 9, 2012, 10:57 PM

3. We agree...

 

In California we are cutting days further due to budget cuts, but IMHO the original 180 or 182 isn't enough.

Not when a few weeks worth of these are lost to mandatory testing and other nonsense.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 11:42 AM

6. I taught in CA for 22 years.

I am a product of CA public education in better years; I graduated the year Prop 13 passed.

Our school year has been cut drastically; we are still expected to continually raise test scores, though, regardless of how much less time we have to do so. In addition to the cut days, MORE of those days go to testing. There are 3 rounds of required state standardized testing, and 3 rounds of required district formative testing. There is not much time between each round to teach and learn.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 12:12 PM

8. What's more, the learners are different learners than we had a generation ago.

 

More home stress, more broken families, more English language learners, and the deficits a student suffers from grade to grade are cumulative.

Altogether, a losing set of circumstances.

Thank you for a career in public service as a teacher.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #2)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 12:04 AM

5. 185 days/year, here.

Summer break's something like 2 1/2 months.

Handy. You take a week to revise your lessons and materials. You have a week or so devoted to professional development. Then there's two months left over.

I thought I was frazzled after the long haul last year between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Then all the testing hit in the spring and I was so ready for summer.

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Response to Igel (Reply #5)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 11:44 AM

7. That's why year-round is better.

We're all burned out by spring, students and teachers alike. That time isn't very productive.

Then students regress over the 2 1/2 months of summer, and we spend too much of the fall re-teaching instead of moving forward. It's a broken cycle.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 12:01 AM

4. IIRC, income and "summer break" effect is correlated with income.

Low income --> you lose tenths of an academic year, especially in elementary school.

Higher income --> you can tenths of an academic year, especially in elementary school.

So in some studies by the end of summer break there's a 0.4 or 0.5-year gap between higher income and low income students. That's months of class time.

I used the word "correlated" intentionally. It's not income, per se. Early studies often said "income," and those for whom only economics matters like to say it's income.

Part of the difference is due to time spent with your kids and interactional styles; this is an issue of child-rearing practices. Middle-class parents tend to interact more as equals and negotiate more, even if they drop an SES level or two.

Part of the difference is income-related. If you have more money, you do more activities--beach, museums; you have more educational materials at home because you can buy them. In some cases the money is necessary. In others, it's just more convenient.

Part of the difference is parental education level. Even poor adults who are well educated can emphasize education: I knew a minimum-wage-earning single mother with a bachelor's who got her kid reading early, exploring things and thinking. It takes not just support for learning, but showing that you love learning--you read, you encourage, you model the right habits. She had no money, but buses got them to museums and the public library provided most of the other resources that money is alleged to be necessary for.

This shows up early: CHILDES database studies in language acquisition show that kids on welfare are simply exposed to less language than working-poor or middle class kids. In many cases the welfare parents have more free time but just leave the kids on their own. Middle class parents often have less time but spend more of what time they have interacting with their kids. As school goes on, this interaction includes helping or monitoring homework and, during the summer, pushing their kids to read.

Of course, the connection between parental interaction, income, and educational levels/attitudes of the parents tend to be interconnected and connected with higher incomes.

And year-round schedules tend, probably, to help lower SES kids more than higher SES kids. Moreover, the lower SES parents probably could use the child-care help more than higher SES kids. The problem is that if a year-round schedule is instituted for low SES kids, wealthier districts will find it easier to implement.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Fri Aug 10, 2012, 06:02 PM

9. Which teachers unions?

Mine sure hasn't argued against extending the school year.

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