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Year Round Schooling

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Year Round Schooling: How the Variability in the Tracking Systems Adopted in all Year round Schooling System Affect School Education

Introduction

Year round schooling involves evenly spreading out academic calendar dates for class lessons into additional class lessons throughout the year, but with shorter durations. This means that the number of days intended for class lessons will not be changed; only the frequency and dates will be affected. For example, if an academic calendar for a school has two hundred days of class lessons, which have been split up into three academic sessions through the year, then year round schooling would split up the same number of days into approximate four or five sessions with breaks in between. This will automatically imply that holiday durations will have been reduced, but not done away with.

Year round schooling is a system, which has been adopted worldwide from the traditional calendar method. The agrarian society shaped schooling to what it is today. Hundred years ago, the society was primarily an agricultural and, hence, all activities were centred towards agricultural lines, including schooling (Gerd, 2002). The planning of events within the year was configured to meet the labour needs during the planting and harvesting seasons, therefore, the agrarian calendar came into play. Schools are still using the agrarian calendar; however, since times have changed and society needs are now different, the need to change the education system to be responsive to today’s societal needs becomes more and more apparent.  Schools today are increasingly adopting all year round schooling system in a bid to match increasingly rising demands for a highly trained workforce in the constantly changing world of information and technology. Programs have been designed and implemented in all year round schooling system, such as the 60/20, 45/15 or 90/30 systems. For example, the 60/20 system means that students attend classes for sixty days and then take a break for the next twenty days, then resume classes for another sixty days and take another break for twenty days, and the cycle repeats itself throughout the year. The same is applied to the 45/15 and 90/30 systems. Different schools all over the world have adopted different systems in their year round schooling system, depending on needs of the society, and also according to the government policies which govern that particular state.  The system has been introduced in many countries. States, such as New York and Baltimore, started the year round schooling, because of the population, which has advanced in growth. In the implementation and adoption of these concepts of year round schooling, track systems emerged as the best instruments in the designing of year round schooling.

The Track Systems Used in Year Round Schooling

Proponents of year round schooling suggest that the track system is the best suited system in the implementation of year round schooling. There are two track systems, which can be used in the single track system and the multiple track system. The single track system involves the use of one academic, which will be uniform throughout the academic year. In essence, it implies that all students will share the same frequency patterns of schooling, such that they will all be at school during the same time, according to the calendar, and the same will also apply to holidays. When they go on holidays, they are all away from school.

The other track system proposed in the implementation of year round schooling is the multiple track system. This system involves designing different calendar activity dates for different groups of students. Also, this system is centred on using alternate methods between active class session periods and holidays. This means that there will be a group of students who will be having class sessions, while others are on holiday, and vice versa. Whatever system is used, there is no absolute proof of the system, which is better than the other, because there is no absolute union of minds for proponents of either system. It is virtually impossible for everybody or even separate groups and classes of people to share the same objectives and views with respect to a certain item or system structure. Therefore, this makes it difficult to place a standard of measure for systems, which are being viewed differently by different people. In this regard, people’s perceptions about the system or systems will undoubtedly vary.

Perceptions of Track Systems in Year Round Schooling

The choice of which track system is to be implemented in the year round schooling is rather ambiguous and not conclusive. As a matter of fact, there is no concrete proof on the superiority of one tracking system over the other. In addition to this, one overriding factor needs to be considered: schools can either be private or public and students can also be categorized into low income and high income students. These factors need to be considered independently, in order to be able to come up with a tenable argument which tracking system is better than the other. The population count of states, in which these schools are situated, is quite valuable in the determination of how these systems affect the year round schooling system and effects it has on how students perform in these schools. Not all states are evenly distributed in terms of population count, and thus, the society’s needs revolve around needs arising from demands being created by its population.

The objective of this study is to analyze the impact of the concept of year round schooling to the academic performance of students at schools. This will be viewed in comparison to schools, which are still using the traditional system. The outcome of this comparison will either validate or disqualify the essence of implementing the concept of year round schooling. The costs of implementing this concept vis-à-vis benefits both students and schools and will also be scrutinized, in order to determine what variables should be considered in the implementation process of the year round schooling (Ruggiero, 2008). This study will proceed to look at designs, which have come up to complement and enhance in the implementation process of the year round schooling. These designs include single and multiple tracking designs. The study, apart from highlighting the differences in these two designs, will also intend to establish, though, not conclusively, the most viable design best suited in the implementation of the year round schooling. Year round schooling is quite an intricate issue, which cannot be looked at from one point of view. It involves many factors, which have to be considered independently, in order to properly assess its viability and effectiveness as the best system to be adopted by schools. These factors can be determined by systems used, as earlier mention the two tracking systems that have helped enhance the year round schooling concept. The two systems have been argued in a bid to bring out the pros and cons (Dale, 1963).

Arguments for Year Round Schooling

Schools all over the world are moving away from the agrarian calendar to the year round system of education. Proponents of the year round schooling concept claim that it is a more consistent and continuous learning process with fewer interruptions, and consequently, it reduces the need for constant reviews by teachers. They argue that the year round schooling gives a reasonable chance to children with low retention capacities to retain the knowledge learnt and acquired much more effectively. These children will not be out of school for long periods, because school breaks have been shortened. This is also beneficial to teachers who will not need to revise the same curriculum again, because students forgot the material they had learnt over the long break. It is also argued that the year round schooling reduces stress and fatigue levels of both teachers and students alike (Shields & Oberg, 2000). Long academic semesters tend to wear out participants in the process, which in this case are teachers and students, hence, lowering the ultimate academic performance of students. One study “The Effects of Modified School Calendars on Academic Achievement”found out that those low income students who had enrolled in schools, which had adopted the year round schooling system generally performed better than those who were at schools still using the traditional system of education. Another study “Efficiency and Costs in Education” found that multi track year round education schools incurred less total costs per student, compared to students at schools on the traditional platform of education (Board of Governors Universities, 1996). Schools using the multi-track system are also placed to cope with the problem of overpopulation, because class sessions alternate, and, as such, they are able to hold fewer students at any given session, as opposed to schools using the single track system or schools still using the traditional system.     

There is also the aspect of remediation for students who would have, otherwise, lost academic grounds, while out on the long summer breaks, and in this sense boosts the academic performance for students in general. With multi tracking system, a school can be able to increase its holding capacity by designing alternate programs and schedules for students. This in essence translates to more income for the school and less expense for parents (Shields & Oberg, 2000).

Arguments against Year Round Schooling

An argument against the single tracking system is the need for air conditioning, because of levels of congestion at classrooms. This is due to the nature of the single tracking system, where all students are subjected to the same school schedule year round. For example, The Board of Education from Chicago barred a request by Union of Teachers from Chicago, requiring that all year round schools have air conditioning. Due to this, a state like California, which has the highest number of year round schools in any state, has adopted a system, whereby incentives in the form of grants are offered to districts, which adopt the concept of the multi-track year round schooling system. 

However, the opponents of the multi tracking system claim that parents can have their children attending the same school, but on different schedules. Therefore, this poses a significant inconvenience on the part of parents, because there is a lack of uniformity, due to school schedules. Additionally, it has been observed that the rate of unemployment is usually high for students enrolled in schools using the year round system of education, as opposed to those enrolled in schools using the traditional education system (Kneese, 2009). Since employment opportunities are high, especially during summer holidays, and students who are at schools using the year round education system cannot get enough time to seek employment. This is observed as a loss of revenue. Students are also required to break and have extracurricular activities as “all work and no play make Johnny a dull boy”. The activities that could be undertaken during vacation cannot be carried out, because of the short periodic breaks. Therefore, students are inhibited from activities, such as camping. In view of the fact that there is no conclusive proof of the academic viability and proven scientifically that year round schooling is much better than the traditional system of schooling, opponents of this concept of year round schooling claim that students will forget the material taught at school, whether it will be after one week or one month (Harris, 1996). This again has no scientific proof, and so it is argued that the year round schooling denies the school children ample time for extra curriculum activities, which are a vital component in a child’s growth and development process (Marco & Denn, 2000).

Conclusion

The creation, development and implementation of the year round schooling in education systems today are arguably, the most viable and reasonable dimension in educational systems. This has been manifested by positive outcomes, which have been sited, when using the year round education system. The multi-track system invariably has a cost benefit feature, because it utilizes the resource centred to almost a maximum, without necessarily an additional cost (Marco & Denn, 2000).

Even though benefits of the year round schooling system in relation to the traditional schooling system are not scientifically quantifiable, there is a need to move out the traditional system of education, since times have changed, which consequently brought new demands. The traditional system of education cannot fully meet these demands as such it lacks vital structures for the generation of an fully effective workforce in society (Malinda, 2009). The multi-track system appears in this sense to have an academic appeal as the best design in the year round schooling system, because of its consistency and the fact that it includes the human aspect of dealing with fatigue and stress in an exceptionally accommodating and convenient way. The multi-track system, as opposed to the single track system in the implementation of the year round schooling, has gained leverage in terms of cost effectiveness, efficiency and convenience (McNamara, 2005).

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