In this series, I've advocated for K-12 schools to shift from the traditional summers-off school calendar to a year-round one. Consistency, less time spent relearning material, and the implications that year-round schooling has for closing the achievement gap are just a few of my reasons for feeling so strongly that this shift take place. There's another piece to this argument though, and one that deserves a closer look. Along with more evenly splitting up time off, should schools be adding more time to their school days or more total days in the classroom?
July 2014 Archives
In my previous two posts, I've emphasized the need for all American K-12 schools to transition to a year-round school calendar. I've highlighted and debunked the most common arguments against year-round schooling and called for educators to stand behind a push to shift to a more consistent school calendar that maximizes student learning. Perhaps one of the strongest arguments in favor of year-round schooling however is the boost it would give to minority and other traditionally disadvantaged groups.
As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of Obama's Race to the Top competition, many of us are contemplating whether or not it was a success. After much reflection, I decided to write an opinion piece, assessing it on its merits. Toward the end of the piece, I will issue a letter grade (A-F) denoting the result of my evaluation.
In my last post, I talked about the reasons I feel that teachers should get behind the push to support year-round schooling and how more consistent time in the classroom will lead to higher student performance, boosting teacher accountability ratings and accommodating a much more streamlined education process. Today I want to look at the common reasons that people are against switching from a summers-off school calendar to a year-round schooling model.
When public schools first started popping up in the U.S., they were considered secondary to other hands-on pursuits. Learning to read, write and perform basic arithmetic in classrooms was not equal to or greater than the actual work of building the nation and keeping up family farms.
Last spring, while millions of American students were bubbling in answers to multiple-choice questions on the ubiquitous tests that determine school and teacher ratings, student promotions, graduation, and college admissions, some students were meeting a higher standard. At the Urban Academy, a second chance high school in New York City that is part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, Gemma Venuti completed the set of research papers that were part of her graduation portfolio — and defended them before a committee of teachers, students, and experts from outside the school.
Think back on your education - all those years sitting in classrooms and diligently taking tests. If I asked you to name the best teacher you had, or to explain why that teacher was so great, could you do it?
From an idealogical perspective, the differences that divide Americans are also what make the nation unique and great. When it comes to education, however, there seems to be a competing theory that differences should be dismissed in favor of finding a standardized way to teach all K-12 students. Time and again when it comes to national policy on education, stringent sets of benchmarks are consistently put in place that are accompanied with funding incentives. The latest example of this one-size-fits-all approach to education policy is Common Core standards and the testing that goes with them.