Our last article had to do with the new kind of assessment that we are starting to see in education and how this could really be a harbinger of things to come where the US starts to catch up with more appropriate assessment for the 21st century.
This article will deal with another major obstacle in US education, which is summer vacation. Funny enough, Time magazine had an article from David Von Drehle on summer vacation.. It lays out many good points about why summer vacation needs to be changed. It even directs users to a great YouTube video to do a dramatic visualization of what happens with reading levels during the summer based on SES.
However, we would like to talk about why summer vacation will never go away. The main reason is business. There are many businesses that rely on the long summer vacation. In the Time article, Mr. Von Drehle talks about amusement parks but this is only industry that benefits. There are also many other including summer camps. Especially in the Northeast, summer sleep away camps are a right of passage for many middle to high income families. Thiis industry would have to transform or go away if we actually changed our school year.
The issue, though, is that we know that summer vacation, in it's current configuration, harms low income students as well as other students in other economic groups if they are not engaged during this time period. Many magnet schools as well as other schools systems in other countries have gone away from the long 9 week summer vacation and have gone to short 3 week vacations divided throughout the year and usually occurring at the end of a trimester.
As we start to move away from antiquated assessment, is it not also time to get rid of antiquated ways of scheduling the school year? Perhaps looking at compaison data from schools in the US who have no summer vacations and schools that do have summer vacations could help answer this question.
James Yap and Teresa Ivey