Benefits of Year-Round School vs. A Regular Calendar Research Proposal

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¶ … Round School vs. A Regular Calendar School Year

The Benefits of Year-Round vs. Traditional Calendar Year School

Continued interest in improving educational achievement has prompted school districts across the nation to consider alternatives to the traditional nine-month school calendar. Educators are exploring year round education, which means that schools will continue to operate on a 180 day system, yet they will spread these days out differently with shorter breaks between each term. The most popular example of year round education is the 45-15 plan.

This has students attending school 45 days and then getting three weeks (15 days) off. The normal breaks (holiday, spring) are still built into this calendar. Is the year-round school schedule more beneficial to student academic achievement vs. The traditional nine-month school calendar? I believe that the year round schedule will help students retain more information, provide increased opportunities for learning during intersession's that will lead to educational gains, and learning would be continuous rather than fragmented.

There is a specific drive behind using a continuous process for improvement. This type of process fosters curriculum change and enhancements, and allows academic leaders an opportunity to update and connect curriculum to the current bodies of knowledge that are respected for their academic discipline. Effective leadership is part of academics, and utilizing it will enable changes within the curriculum. This is why an assessment model is so very significant. Every assessment model has a plan, do, check, and act phase (Toombs & Tierney, 1991).

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Some of the most noted process assessment experts have been particularly influenced in leading academic transformation in many institutions of higher learning. Therefore, as educators seek to improve curricula, their support becomes an integral part of the continuous improvement process. This process has been guided by academic leadership. Assessment models are then designed to help improve curriculum (Gaff, Ratcliff, & Associates, 1997).

Statement of the Problem

Research Proposal on Benefits of Year-Round School vs. A Regular Calendar School Year Assignment

It is clear that there is a serious issue where the 'right' way to address schooling is concerned. Major studies by Pothering (1998) and Swing (1998), cite the election of curriculum and change perspectives as the purpose and role of curriculum in education. These studies further reinforce the need to apply models of assessment that successfully measure the performance of the curriculum against stated purpose and are reflective of a discipline. These and other studies like them have begun to pave the way for many academic leaders to systematically reform the curriculum at their institutions. Models of assessment have become a common thread in current discussions on the systematic improvement of curriculum.

Successful definitions have been presented that link education and curriculum with quality improvements. Researchers have linked definitions to education that contend that models of assessment are esoteric to successful curricular improvements. Recently, researchers have also formulated frameworks for assessment and improvement as applied to education. In short, it must be determined whether curriculum and how it is structured affects students and their learning outcomes.

Essential Question to be Addressed

The essential question that has to be addressed with this particular study is the following:

How does year-round schooling compare with traditional, standard calendar year schooling when it comes to student performance and quality of education?

Rationale

On average, industrialized nations spend 193 days in school. Many of the countries that are currently outperforming the United States have restructured the school year to utilize a balanced calendar. We must begin to consider school calendar options that put learning first, and since other countries and their performance shows evidence that year-round schooling may be more beneficial to the learning process, it is worthy of study and consideration.

There are also some school districts within the United States that offer the year-round school option, and studying them can provide further information for whether this should be a nationwide commitment to education or whether it does not provide enough of a benefit to be considered worth making the change.

Definition of Operational Terms

Single-track YRE (year-round education) provides a balanced calendar for a more continuous period of instruction. Students and all school personnel follow the same instructional and vacation schedule. Single-track does not reduce class size, nor does it allow a school to accommodate more students. The rescheduled vacation is placed throughout the school year into periods called "intercessions," allowing time for remediation and enrichment throughout the school year.

Multi-track YRE is used primarily to alleviate overcrowding, although it also incorporates the educational values of single-track YRE, including intercessions. It was designed specifically for schools with a shortage of classroom space.

Multi-track avoids double sessions and the extended school day. It also alleviates the need to build costly new buildings. Multi-track divides students and teachers into groups, or tracks of approximately the same size. Each track is assigned its own schedule. Teachers and students assigned to a particular track follow the same schedule and are in school and on vacation at the same time.

Extended Year calendars lengthen the school year substantially, from the usual 180 or so days annually up to 240 days of instruction.

Intercessions are the periods of time rescheduled from summer vacation and redistributed within the school year. They can be used as vacation but are usually utilized as instructional time for remediation and enrichment with both single and multi-track calendars. Intercessions typically involve school staff and community resources to provide a safety net and an academic boost to avoid failure or enhance achievement (Harris, 1996).

Discussion of Potential Positive and Negative Outcomes

As with any study and with any decision that makes a substantial change in a formative area like education, there are positive and negative effects that are often seen. In every successful academic initiative, the need for improving quality within curriculums in higher education is essential (Albrecht, 1994). Quality is steeped in the very fabric of education in this country. Application of the principles of the quality model for improvement alone does not determine the cause of educational change. The assessment process requires a continuous examination through the use of an assessment model. Examination will likely bring about positive changes in any educational curriculum.

Using consistent and well conceived models of assessment to improve quality provides an environment in which change is viewed as something positive and non-threatening. In this way, change can be fostered. By creating a way that others can view change as a non-threatening entity, those that lobby for this change can often move things along much faster than they would be able to otherwise. When change is seen as non-threatening, few people fight to keep the status quo.

A curriculum includes a set of courses offered to students; the set of courses students actually select (unless compulsory) from those available; and the content of the specific discipline that makes the curriculum unique (Toombs & Tierney, 1991). As for substance, the processes and substance of an educational program comprise the purpose, design, conduct, and evaluation of educational experiences.

This gives shape to an institution's particular intellectual beliefs and aspirations, because it is aided by faculty in light of their specialized knowledge and in the context of social expectation and students needs manifested in a body of courses that present the knowledge, principals, values, and skills intended as consequences of an education (Gaff & Ratcliff, 1997). All of these things together work to define education as unique, and there can be strong effects seen in both good and bad ways when education is changed or adjusted, even if there is compelling evidence that the overall outcome will be a positive one.

Projected Limitations

Any study has limitations, and this one is no exception. The main limitation of this particular study is that there are not that many school districts within the United States that subscribe to this particular type of calendar. Most of the schools address the standard, traditional, calendar year as their school year and that is the curriculum that they follow. In other countries, however, most of the schools follow the year-round model, and there is evidence that those students perform better and have more actual knowledge retention than the students in the traditional calendar year schools.

Whether this will be shown to be the case with all of the schools in the United States is not something that can actually be proven by a study such as this one, but good evidence as to whether it has worked at schools in the past can be addressed, which will help to lead the discussion toward future research into this important area.

Chapter II: Review of Literature

Many schools across the country are going to a year-round school calendar (McMillen, 2001). These schools and districts believe that spacing breaks more evenly throughout the year instead of having one long summer break is better for the students and facilitates a stronger learning environment. While the term year-round school is sometimes used to discuss schools that are in session more than the required 180 days, the term also refers to schools that simply space out their 180 instructional time so… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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