The Curse of the U.S. Long Summer Break

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The curse of the U.S. long summer break is the summer slide that the American youth experiences Although the system implemented now of a serious of breaks and schooling provide some benefit, there is greater benefit in the school system switching to year-round. The implementation of year-round schooling would be a great addition to education by serving to minimize academic loss, producing close relations between teacher and students, and it will aid with limiting the achievement gap. Summer slide, summer setback, summer slump are different words that mean the loss of information during the summertime for students.

Summer slide is stated as being “the tendency for students especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievements gains they made during the previous school year,” (Colorado Department of Education). Students during the summer might be involved in activities or spending the whole summer at home doing nothing. Bracey stated that “way back in September 1986, I summarized in this column a study that had found results that contradicted a “known” fact: that there is a phenomenon called “summer loss”,” (497). The summer loss is not something new, but something that has occurred over a long period of time. The activities might be focused on jobs, internships, immersive trips, or nothing beneficial. Most students become focused on entertainment and don’t focus on any material for the upcoming school year or attempt to remember the previous year’s information. Teachers need to reteach information students should already know as soon as the new school year starts because of the long break that students have without focusing on school.

A challenge that is prevented from having a traditional nine-month schedule is overcrowded schools. “To combat overcrowding, growing school districts across the country are struggling to replace aging and run-down school buildings with modern facilities,” (Pagan et al. 8). The problem overcrowding creates is the inability of students to pay attention during class. To fix overcrowding, there are tracks for students. The schools are dividing the student body and staff into different tracks to prevent overcrowding. The tracks are sequences of rotation. Instead of having fewer students, the school has the capability of enrolling more students. Washington states, “there is even evidence that year-round schooling can actually save money in construction costs if school districts stagger sessions among students,” (2). The initial investment for a building and equipment is the only investment needed in a year-round school. Many students are able to use the same facilities and buildings with the multi-tracks being implemented.

The school does not need to be renovated to fit in more students when it has students attending on different schedules. The school saves money on books and equipment since students are not overcrowded in the school. The money being saved in these schools provides a benefit for the implementation of year-round schooling. The facilities and buildings are being occupied the whole year effectively by not being vacant for periods. In the traditional school calendar, one six weeks or grading cycle is typically used to help students recall previous information they lost during the summer. This cycle could be utilized to teach newer information or to teach areas that students do not understand. This cycle should not be used for the reteaching of information students learned the past year. “Many studies have shown that a longer school year with shorter breaks helps these students reatain what they’ve learned,” (Nikiforuk 38). Summer learning loss is minimized with constant schooling all year. Year-round schooling makes the long three months break into smaller breaks spread out throughout the year. The most popular pattern for instruction and vacation is 60/20 and 45/15. These patterns are days instructed to days of vacation. “Currently there are over 2,000 year-round schools in the United States with modified calendars," (NAYRE, 2010). There is a growing acceptance in year-round schooling in the United States. A student focus is created with time for school. “The second semester has its quirks as well.

Teachers, staff, and students begin the semester with a rush,” (Ballinger, Charles, and Kneese 3). Teachers do not rush to teach lessons in year-round schools. The students who greatly benefit are the ones who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Minorities have a higher dropout rate than whites. These students will be able to stay on task and be immersed in lectures. Students whose English is not their first language have an opportunity by being immersed in the classes with English being around them. These students develop relationships with other students and feel more welcomed and part of the school culture. “The precious extra ingredient that this magnet program offers is two extra hours of instruction each day spread over a year-round schedule – 210 days compared with the common 180—day year,” (Clark 1). Teachers would not be as stressed because they are not in a rush to teach. The achievement gap has been a huge issue with the three-month vacation students receive in the summer. The achievement gap is the difference in educational performance by students. “The achievement gap in standardized test scored between low-income and higher income students has grown by approximately 40% since the 1960s,” (USA Today 11).

The achievement gap is seen with poor children compared to wealthier ones. Socioeconomic backgrounds play a role in the achievement gap widening during the summer break. “Students from lower-income homes engage in different activities than their better-off peers,” (Reading Today 1). Lower income children are not likely to attend camps, but more likely to stay at home watching television, playing games or staying indoors. Summer camps cause the brain to be utilized with hands-on activities, curricula, and teaching. The students get to experience extended learning time to minimize the achievement gap. In some instances, there are higher expectations and higher-level academic core to support students for college readiness. The gap widens as some minorities are unrepresented and face challenges. The challenges they face is being a first-generation college student and the lack of support they have.

An extended period of time and constantly seeing the teacher causes the students to develop a closer relationship with the teacher. The constant schooling allows for the students to feel attached to the school. The three-month summer vacation creates a sense of detachment for the students when arriving back to school. “Teachers in regular schools are so busy teaching that they have less time to plan lessons for their classes,” (Peters 6). The teachers being able to plan creates more time to bond with the student. There is not a need to just teach with the scheduling being how it is. “Year-round schooling is also supposed to generate better learning by making education a more continuous process,” (Marsh 19). The continuous process brings students, teachers, and parents together. There is a sense of belonging and accomplishment that arises from constantly seeing the teachers. Although there are great benefits that come from implementing year-round schooling, there are some drawbacks that arise. There has to be constant maintenance to the school as it is used throughout the whole year. The rise of maintenance cost rises when the multitrack cause the building to be an issue throughout the year. There is also transportation as an added cost. There is a demand for more staff and maintenance since the schools are in constant use with very little breaks.

“Although the increased cost of implementing a year-round calendar system appear to be modest – about a 3 percent increase in annual school expenditures – it has clearly discouraged some schools from employing such a system.” (Hanover Research, 2018).The costs can be divided into transition costs and operational costs. Transitional costs include those of administrative planning, staff development, communication, storage units, storage space and air conditioning. Operational costs include expanding office and administrative staff, increased utilities, maintenance and transportation costs. These are financial costs that appear as a burden to the school district and administration. Added consequences is the storage space will be very limited in the schools. The classrooms used for storage would most likely hold students and teachers for lectures and presentations. These present the consequences and drawbacks from implementing the year-round schooling. Problems that arose dealt with parents and families. Parents argue that there are irregular vacations and different schedules. Not everyone follows the same schedule because of the different tracks being implemented. The different schedules are created to hold everyone attending the school and prevent the over crowdedness that is present in traditional calendar schools. A valid issue is the organizational difficulty.

The staff has to become flexible. Thee needs to be mobility since different groups are using the classrooms at different times. “I learn a lesson every summer, too, and no lesson is ever the same,” (Herald 1). Not everyone spends their time on video games or watching television during the summer. The present drawbacks do not overrule the benefits. Although there were increases in cost, there can be avoided costs. A huge saving comes from average daily attendance, shared materials, reduced absenteeism, and decreased vandalism. According to the Hanover Research, 74 percent of black students at a year-round school improved their English test scores faster than he average at traditional schools. Those students also saw a 65 percent improvement in math test scores faster than he traditional school average. “The 27,000 student Socorro Independent School District saw its ranking has bettered since the implementation of year-round education,” (McGlynn 34).

Factors that include to the improvements are decreased summer learning loss and more instructional time. Farbman and Kaplan mention, “In comparison, several studies have reported that nations with more than 180 instructional days and/or that have calendars year-round have outperformed American schools,” (2005). The added days are aid to the students’ achievement. The common misconception of year-round schooling is that there are no summer breaks. There is still 180 days that the students attend, but there are more breaks in-between. The extra three months of vacations are not deprived from the students. The three months are placed throughout the year. The students typically have six weeks of school and three weeks of break. The three months are still there. The only difference is that three months of break are given consecutively for the traditional schools and the year-round calendar sees 3-week breaks. A country that has decided to implement a system similar to year-round schooling is Japan. Japan is running on a trimester system. The trimester system makes the summer break start late July and ends late August, winter break starts late December and ends early January, and spring break starts late March and ends early April.

The year begins in April and ends in March. A huge difference from this Japan and the United States in the education system is that in, “the United States, included, students’ economic backgrounds often determine the quality of the education they receive,” (Semuels 1). Japan ranks high among rich and poor students with equal education opportunities. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates nine percent of varied student performance comes from socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the OECD, the United States is 17 percent. The federal government aids in preventing economic hardship from affecting the quality of students’ education. Japan exceeds in education for many reasons. The Japanese government ensures that the students that need the most help receive it from the best teachers in the specific area of help. “Japanese students spend six weeks more in school than American students do, partly because their summer vacation does not start until the middle of July,” (Albanese 12). The education system in Japan makes certain that all the students are benefited. On the contrary, The United States educational system makes the best students become better and everyone else is left behind to catch up on their own. There are drawback and benefits for implementing year-round schooling in the United States. The drawbacks are costs, planning, different schedule and a flexible staff.

The benefits are savings, good use of facilities, lowers the achievement gap, lessens educational inequality, and creates a stronger bond between parents, students and teachers. “Reformers have been scrambling to try new initiatives to address this great educational chasm by developing ways to improve academic achievement,” (OECD, 2009). America falls behind Japan and other countries in student achievement. The reasons for having the traditional school calendar was to meet agrarian needs. These rationales do not apply to us anymore. Implementing this new calendar is not an easy process that presents no disadvantages. The greatest achievements from this is the lower achievement gap and educational equality.

Socioeconomic status is a huge factor in the United States to determine education. Japan proves to show that they succeed in providing an equal opportunity to everyone. The United States needs to change to make education equal. Everyone should be at the same level. Weiss and Brown stated, “As well, the summer-themed attractions for children seem to give credence to the metaphor given by one writer that the school schedule is one of the “great clocks for our society,” (1429). The school schedule causes businesses to profit. The summers should be spent learning, not wasting time.

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The Curse of the U.S. Long Summer Break. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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