published : 2023-11-09

Growing Number of American Schools Shifting to Year-Round Calendars

School districts in Mississippi and Texas reported less 'learning loss' in students under the modified calendar

Year-round school classroom with students engaged in hands-on math activities (taken with Nikon D750)

Year-round school calendars are gaining popularity in the United States, with some states even offering incentives to school districts to make the switch.

According to the Education Commission of the States, 25 states currently allow year-round schooling, and 11 of them actively encourage it.

These incentives have come about as a response to the challenge of students falling behind due to virtual learning during the pandemic.

School districts have observed that the COVID-19 situation has exacerbated summer learning loss, prompting educators to explore solutions.

Adrian Bustillos, the Chief Transformation Officer of Aldine Independent School District in Texas, explains, 'We were primarily concerned about the summer learning loss in recent years. Research shows that students were falling back two to three years in math and reading.'

The impact of this learning loss is significant, with studies suggesting that it could cost students up to $70,000 in lifetime earnings.

Adrian Bustillos, Chief Transformation Officer of Aldine Independent School District, discussing the benefits of year-round schooling (taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Aldine Independent School District in Texas is an example of a district that has recently adopted a modified school calendar.

They have gradually introduced an additional 30 days to the school year in four campuses, with the aim of providing enrichment for students, addressing accelerated math and reading, and allowing more planning time for teachers.

The shift towards year-round calendars has been noticeable, with the number of schools embracing this approach increasing from 2.5% in 2018 to 4% in 2020, impacting over 3 million students nationwide.

Mississippi's Corinth School District was the first in the state to transition to a year-round calendar eight years ago, and now 28 other districts have followed suit.

Superintendent Lee Childress of Corinth School District believes that the modified calendar has helped lessen the impact of COVID-related learning loss.

He explains, 'If you have a kindergarten child who doesn't know their colors or numbers, the best time to provide remediation would be during the additional October session rather than falling further behind during the regular school year.'

Superintendent Lee Childress of Corinth School District talking about the positive impact of the modified school calendar (taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

Similar positive results have been seen in Aldine Independent School District, where the Chief Transformation Officer, Adrian Bustillos, affirms, 'When we analyze our data, we find that there is virtually no learning loss. There is a slight dip, but it is incomparable to previous years.'

To alleviate student and teacher burnout, adjustments to the year-round calendars include more days off and the integration of maintenance activities usually undertaken during the summer.

In conclusion, the increasing number of American schools transitioning to year-round calendars is seen as a solution to combatting learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While challenges remain, districts like Corinth School District in Mississippi and Aldine Independent School District in Texas have embraced this approach and seen positive outcomes in mitigating the impact of learning loss on their students.