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... he option of going on vacation, volunteer work, or involve themselves in other positive activities. Also, students can come back to school and make up attendance, attend accelerated classes, or developmental classes. They also have the option of participating in field trips, special projects, and other numerous activities. Furthermore, by using the intercession time, over 60 percent of children are in school for 200 days a year. The intercessions have allowed their district to improve students overall academic performance in all areas. Furthermore, improvements in math, science, and language arts have been most significant.
The extended year provides time for students who have missed too much school, or have fallen behind for any reason to catch up with their learning (Barber, 1996). Intersession class sizes are small and encourage creative learning, traditional time constraints are eliminated, and teaching and learning are described by teachers and student alike as being fun (Barber, 1996). About 65 percent of the student's come from homes where Spanish is the dominant language. Being able to attend school for more days, plus not having the long summer in which to forget, has been most helpful for those children (Barber, 1996). The most important advantage of this calendar, where students are never out of school for more than one month at a time, is increased student performance (Barber, 1996). As a group, Socorro Independent School District's students earn the highest scores on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, of any district in the country. All 19 campuses are state accredited, with almost 50 percent of the elementary schools receiving state recognition for student performance (Barber, 1996).
Socorro School's are yet another positive example YRE and ESD. Year Round Schools do not only exist in the south and southwest. About 10 years ago Trenton, New Jersey schools fell exceedingly short on measures of facilities improvement and academic achievement. Students had the lowest achievement level and the highest dropout rate in the state. No longer willing to tolerate few successes and tremendous failure Trenton schools made a decision that something must be done. After researching YRE they found that it has long been touted for making the best use of school facilities and reducing the need for new construction, but even more important they found that it also has a positive effect on academic performance especially among at-risk students. The Joyce Kilmer School, in Trenton, New Jersey decided on a 45 -15 plan and they would use the intercessions for remedial classes, planned activities, and special programs which include field trips, tours, and programs with visiting authors, artists, dancers, and musicians.
The year round students at Kilmer attend school for 200 days, or 20 more than the 180 required by New Jersey law (Venable, 1996). The school does not force children to enroll in the year-round program. However, 331 of Kilmer's 530 students are enrolled year round. So far, the school has seen an improvement in all aspects of pupil's progress, from attendance to parent involvement, to less discipline referrals. Teacher's report that year-round students are learning more and forgetting less, which means they require fewer classroom hours of review so more time is dedicated to creative learning. Teachers can also keep track of their students' progress better with the shorter vacation breaks.
They're better able to help students throughout the school year. One teacher of the second grade transitional class composed of students who had been recommended for being held back in first grade stated 'Year-round education literally turned the page in the lives of these students' who needed 'the consistency of more time on task.' (Venable, 1996). The school's speech therapist says that year-round students are making such rapid progress that she expects some will leave speech therapy sooner than usual (Venable, 1996). So far the retention rate of students and the special education referrals have been lessening in this school. Furthermore, because so many students are finding success, the school has reported fewer discipline problems. In fact, the principle reports almost a complete absence of disciplinary referrals, and last year Kilmer reported only one suspension.
The drop in discipline problems has occurred among all year-round students: special education, gifted and talented, at-risk, and average kids (Venable, 1996). Teacher's attendance rate at both schools was almost 100 percent for the first few months of the year-round program (Venable, 1996). Even at the end of eight months it was still impressive at 97 percent. Student attendance has also risen. Kilmer reports an average daily attendance rate of 96 percent. Children have carried their enthusiasm home, and parent involvement is up. The principle reports that parents are visiting and volunteering more than in the past (Venable, 1996).
I believe that YRE and ESD are the answer for improving American schools. Nine-month schooling and three-month vacation is a thing of the past. The United States should recognize YRE and ESD as a reality. The U.S. in a now an industrialized country with, more often than not, both parents working. Year Round Education and ESD allows children the extended time to learn instead of coming home to an empty house.
This extended learning time will also benefit at-risk children who run the risk of falling behind. The more time they have in a learning environment will provide further enrichment to the students' life and will further they're retention skills. Year Round Schooling is also beneficial to foreign speaking students because of the consistent stimulation to the English speaking learning environment. Also intercessions help at-risk children by providing additional classes during the break so students can keep up with their studies. Intercessions are also beneficial for latchkey children whose parents are at work most of the day. During the intercessions children have the option of remaining in class, participating in field trips or extra curricular activities.
I also believe that YRE and ESD are beneficial for teachers. Students are more enthusiastic about learning in this environment, therefore teachers tend to feel more appreciated in their teaching efforts and by their students. Also, intercessions, in my opinion, contribute to less teacher burn out because the breaks are frequent, children are more enthusiastic about attending school, and academic achievement is overall better than traditional school year students. In YRE and ESD it is reported that there is less student delinquency and less disciplinary problems. I believe this is true because underutilized time is being diminished, and more time is spent in a learning environment. Some school districts may be worried about financial difficulties when deciding to implement YRE or ESD. However, even the poorest of school districts has managed to implement YRE on the cost efficient multi-track plan and with supply and demand strategies.
Year Round Schooling or ESD should be in every school district throughout the United States. The U.S. needs to do something about our education and a conscientious first step would be to implement YRE and ESD. We have seen all the benefits that come from this plan. It seems only logical for the future of our success as country to implement YRE and ESD nationwide.References Kneese, C., (1996). Review of Research on Student Learning in Year-Round Education.
Journal of Research and Development in Education, 29, 60-72 Opheim, C., Mohajer., Read Jr., (1995). Evaluating Year-Round Schools in Texas. Education, 116, 115-120 Kneese, C., ( 1995). Evaluating the Achievement of At-Risk Students in Year Round Education. Planning and Changing, 26, 71-90 Greenfield, T., (1994). Year-Round Education: A Case for Change. The Educational Forum, 58, 252-262 Jones, J., (1995). Extending School Hours: A Capital Idea. Educational Leadership, 53, 44-46 Venable, B., (1996).
A School for All Seasons. Executive Educator, 18, 24-26 Gee, W., (1997). The Copernican Plan and Year-Round Education: Two Ideas That Work Together. Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 793-796 Warrick-Harris, Elaine., (1995). Year-Round School: Balfour Elementary School, Asheboro, North Carolina. Childhood Education, 71, 282-287 Geiger, P., (1994). Stretching the Clock and the Dollar.
American School and University, 67, 16 Barber, R. Jerry., (1996). Year-Round Schooling Really Works: Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas. The Education Digest, 62, 31-33.
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