Educators trying to improve student achievement may want to consider year-round schools. A recent study in West Carrollton School District, Dayton, Ohio, measured the effect of year-round schooling on student performance. Douglas E. Roby, Principal, Frank Nichols Elementary School, compared the achievement results of two elementary schools in the district that were matched for ethnicity and socioeconomic factors. These schools follow different schedules, but require an equal number of school days each year. At the year-round school, students attend school for 45 days (nine weeks) and then have 15 days (three weeks) of vacation. The traditional school had the usual nine months of school with the three-month summer break.
Growth in student populations, funding problems and interest in improving educational achievement are the usual reasons for experiments with year-round schedules. Roby reports that the year-round school in his district adopted its schedule more than 20 years ago in response to a sudden influx of students. The large school population was accommodated by rotating periods of attendance and vacation.
Sixth-grade achievement compared
Roby’s study focused on sixth-grade students who had attended their respective school for at least three years, thus increasing the probability that their standardized test scores reflected the long-term effects of each school’s educational program. Students in both schools took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Cognitive Abilities Test. Mean reading and math scores were compared for the two schools and for girls and boys.
Year-round schedule yields higher achievement
Students at the year-round school demonstrated significantly higher average math and reading scores. When reading scores for boys and girls were analyzed separately, boys appeared to benefit more than girls from year-round schooling. There were no differences in math by gender.
Effect sizes were calculated from scores to determine if the statistical differences found in this study were educationally significant. (Effect sizes of .33 or greater are considered to have practical significance for education.) The results of these calculations revealed that there was a significant practical benefit from year-round schooling. Effect sizes of 1.00 and higher were found for all comparisons except for girls and reading achievement, for which the effect size was still a significant .78.
The statistical and practical results of this study favor the year-round calendar. The statistical data suggest that year-round school is more beneficial to boys’ achievement in reading than girls’. Roby points out that this may be due, at least in part, to differences in the amount of reading and kinds of activities boys and girls tend to do in the summer. He concludes that shorter vacation periods appear to result in greater retention of learned academic material.
“Comparison of a Year-Round School and a Traditional School: Reading and Mathematics Achievement”, ERS Spectrum, Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 1995, pp. 7-10.
Published in ERN May/June 1995, Volume 8, Number 3