SCHOOL DAYS IN AMERICA SHOULD BE INCREASED 10
SchoolDays in America should be increased
This section offers a background regarding the relationship between the number of days spend in school and performance.
Comparison between the US and other countries is offered
Thesis: The paper discusses the benefits of having a year-round school and why America should consider reconstructing its education calendar by increasing the number of days.
Inthis section, the main issues affecting schooling in the US isindicated.
Education policy of long summer break implemented in the 19th century is one of the reasons for few days of schooling in the US. During this period, agriculture was the main economic activity in the US.
Increasing school days will give teachers more time to spend with students and to focus on subjects such as reading and math that have proven to be challenging for many students in America
Adding more school days will enable students to spend more time on sidelined subjects such as music, social studies, and physical education
Year-round school in America will be more beneficial to children from low-income families such as advancing quickly.
Inthis section, the main points covered in the paper are offered.
Theacademic sources used in writing the paper are arranged onalphabetical order.
Whenample time is spent in perfecting a particular task, the results arealways better and far much improved. For some reasons, America doesnot apply this theory to its education system. According to Silva(2007), annually, majority of school going children in the US fail toachieve in their respective grades. Statistics show that too manychildren in America are scoring poorly especially in reading andMath. One of the primary reasons behind the poor performance is fewdays spent in school. One proposed solution, which has generateddiverse reactions from the public, is increasing the school days.Many educators and even students agree that increasing the number ofschool days will offer various benefits for them. However, otherspeople are of the view that more time does not necessarily mean morelearning, and instead schools should focus on the quality. Variousstudies have revealed that extending school days does benefit notonly the students but also the teachers and parents. The currentpaper aims to discuss the benefits of having a year-round school andwhy America should consider reconstructing its education calendar byincreasing the number of days.
Theaverage American student attends school for about six and half hoursfor 180 days in a year (Pedersen, 2010). Despite the fact that thedays at school are short and few, a significant part of the day isnot spent in class but other extra-curriculum activities. Accordingto Weiss & Brown (2003), the reason why America still holds on tothe few school hours and limited days is outdated. The educationpolicy of long summer break and short school days was implementedback in the 19thcentury when agriculture was the primary economic activity inAmerica. The families, mostly farmers by profession, required theirchildren to assist them in their farms after school. Children wouldwake up very early and help with farming activities such as weedingbefore going to school. During this era, summer holidays were notdesigned for fun and vacations. Instead, the long holiday wasintended to give children ample time to assist their parent with thevarious farming activities during the critical agricultural season.Public schools in America adopted this calendar in the 1960s and ithas barely changed since then (Cuban, 2008). Because of this reason,America has fallen behind other nations such as Japan and South Koreaconcerning education achievements.
Figure1: Pie charts comparing the traditional and the modern, balancedcalendars
Increasingschool days will give teachers more time to spend with students, andto focus on subjects such as reading and math that have proven to bechallenging for many students in America (St Gerard, 2007). Thecurrent calendar forces the teachers to rush so as to cover thesyllabus before the year ends. Consequently, the teachers lackadequate time to focus on difficult subjects and with the weakstudents. The various interviews carried out by McMillen (2001), inhis study reveal that, many teachers support the idea of a year-roundschool. This is because it makes their work easier by giving themmore time to cover the same syllabus. Some public schools in Americasuch as KIPP Academy schools have adopted a new system that allowsstudents to spend more hours in school. Currently, the school isreaping many benefits, enhanced academic performance included.
Addingmore school days will enable students to spend more time on sidelinedsubjects such as music, social studies, and physical education(Cuban, 2008). It is argued that many school-going children arebecoming overweight due to lack of adequate physical exercises. Thecurrent school calendar is one of the causes since it has cut down onsubjects such as physical education to focus on challenging topicssuch as English and Math. These subjects have been overlooked fordecades to focus on poor-performing subjects such as Math. However,for several years, the test scores for these subjects have remainedstagnant, and students have missed the chance of experiencing anall-rounded education. According to Cuban, there is the need to addmore days to the American school calendar not only to boost academicperformance but also to bring up healthy and well-rounded kids(2008).
Shorteningthe summer holiday might not be the only solution to Americaneducation problems. According to most research the quality of timespent and not the quantity is of great importance in determiningstudents’ academic achievements. However, increasing the number ofdays could assist in solving the America’s problem (Granderson,2011). Recentstatistics show that America falls behind some of the top-performingcountries in the world in education. According to St Gerard (2007),countries like Japan, Finland, and South Korea have a school calendarthat has over 200 days in a year. In a country like Japan, thestudents even continue with their studies after a regular day isover. America’s school calendar comprises of 180 days and is of theshortest school years worldwide. Countries like South Korea haveembraced a year round schooling with 220 school days and being rankednumber two in Math in 2011, behind Finland at 190 days.
Studentsin Japan, who spend an average of 220 days in a year in school, havehigh academic achievements by any international standards. Due to themany days spent in school, Japan has a short day of an average threeand a half to four and half hours. Such a calendar ensures theteachers have adequate time to cover the syllabus with no rush.Additionally, it ensures that the students do not burn up their mindsby spending many hours in class. As shown in the graph below, anAmerican Fourth Grader spends more hours in class than Japanese.However, on an average, the Japanese students score better in Mathand Science compared to the Americans because they have a year-roundschool calendar.
Figure2: A chart comparing the hours spent in school by Fourth Graders infive different countries
Giventhe vast socio-economic gaps and educational disparities across theUnited States, there is the need for the government to reconstructits school calendar. For instance, some schools in California haveinitiated programs to extend school days and since 2008 have provento be beneficial especially in boosting students’ math and readingscores (Pedersen, 2010). However, adding more days in school when theteaching methods used in America are inefficient will not enhancestudents’ academic achievements. America needs to focus on thequantity and quality of time spent in school to catch up with otherleading nations in education such as Japan. Pedersen (2010) arguesthat better schools and a favorable classroom environment increasethe benefits of increased school days. According to Pedersen, aschool with poor teachers and a bad environment is not likely toachieve any significant gains from extra time or days. However, manyschools in America are getting better and are, therefore, realizingthe need and value of having more days for learning (Silva, 2007).The ubiquitous public schools experiencing low academic performancehave made it crucial for the American government to extended schooldays.
Whilechildren love summers due to the lots of fun and vacations, theirminds do not. During summer holidays, the children go for about threemonths without the need to use critical thinking (Granderson, 2011).As a result, they end up forgetting most of the things learned in theprevious year. Therefore, the teachers are forced to use most oftheir teaching time at the start of each academic year to revisit thetopics that the student have forgotten over the summer holidays.According to Granderson, this is one of the reasons why some recentresearch reveals that Finnish15-year-olds students are far much aheadof their American counterparts in Science and Math (2011). To anadult, three months break may not be a long time, but for a kid, itmight seem like a lifetime. Scientifically, three months isequivalent to 0.025% of a two-year-old`s life. Therefore, by taking athree-month summer holiday, most of the children`s minds go inactiveand hence unable to perform as they used to before breaking for theholiday.
Duringsummers, most of the financially stable parents want to give theirchildren the chance to be kids by paying for them all the luxuriesthat they need. However, this was not the original reason summerholidays were inserted in the American school calendar. Back in the19thcentury, the summer vacation was not meant to spoil the kids but toallow them to help their parents with farm work. Currently,technological advancement has made farming absolute hence the kids nolonger need the summer holidays (Granderson, 2011). As a result, manyparents are struggling to keep children in a learning environmentduring the long summer holiday. The financially-stable parents canafford to cough hundreds or even thousands of dollars to enroll theirchildren in a learning program or even two. Therefore from afinancial point of view, summer holidays are destructive because theyhinder not only academic gains but also incur extra costs forparents.
Variousstudies reveal that a year-round school in America will be morebeneficial to children from low-income families. One of the reasonsbehind this argument is the fact that a year-round schooling willallow the children have shorter breaks, which will not have asignificant impact on children`s memory ability. Secondly, shorterholidays will ensure that the low-income children keep out oftrouble. According to St Gerard (2007), while wealthier parents canafford to enroll their children in learning programs or paying summercamps, many low-income parents depend on scholarships or programsfinanced through government funds. For the penniless Americans, thereis n extra income for transportation to these programs therefore,they just stay at home and watch TV every single day throughout thesummer holiday. Additionally, many low-income families leave theirchildren at home alone unattended as they go to work. Consequently,the kids end up involving in social evils such as drugs andpremarital sex. Therefore, adding more days to the existing schoolcalendar by shortening the summer holiday will keep children engagedin productive work and off the streets (Granderson, 2011).
Ayear round school will also allow students to advance more quickly.According to Pedersen (2010), in a year-round school calendar,there is no significant dissimilarity d between year X and year Y.The bright students do not need to wait for a new year to startbefore proceeding to the subsequent grade. With the shortened summerholiday, there is constant learning that eliminates the emphasis ofwhen a student began school but as an alternative focus onproficiency and ability. However, despite the various benefits of ayear-round school, there are some Americans opposing the idea ofincreasing school days. According to this school of thought, if thecurrent teaching methods used in America are not working, increasingthe number of school days will not change anything. The argument maybe valid in one way or another since the quality of time is betterthan the quantity of time spent. However, it is important to pointout that adding more days to the school calendar will give both theteachers and the students, ample time to focus on quality since thereis no need to rush over the syllabus.
Thereis adequate evidence from the paper that a year-round school willoffer significant benefits to the American student and teacher.Increasing the number the days in school will neither violate anychild’s right nor deprive them their childhood. Instead, addingmore days to the existing schooling calendar will allow teachers tofocus on subjects such as Math and Science, in which Americans lagsbehind other countries such as Finland, Japan, and South Korea.Moreover, shorter summer holidays will eliminate the need forteachers to spend more than one month at the beginning of every NewYear re-teaching the forgotten concepts. Increasing school days willalso significantly benefit the children from low-income families, whocannot afford to enroll in a learning program during summer holidays.From a general point of view, a year-round schooling in America willgive children a better fighting chance in the contemporary, highlycompetitive job markets. The world is getting smaller but smarter andat a closer look, this is as a result of education. Therefore,American children need the best to compete equally with theircounterparts in the contemporary, smart world.
Cuban,L. (2008). The perennial reform fixing school time: Educationcritics often call for longer school days and years, but there islittle research to support such demands and several reasons whylittle will change. PhiDelta Kappan,90(4),240.
GrandersonL.Z. (2011). Weneed year-round school to compete globally.Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/05/10/granderson.yearround.school/
japan.org(1998). Japanese Kids Have Longest School Year. Available at http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/archives/news/98-2/hikaku.html
McMillen,B. J. (2001). A state-wide evaluation of academic achievement inyear-round schools. TheJournal of Educational Research,95(2),67-74.
Pedersen,J. M. (2010). The length of School Calendars and Student Achievementin High Schools in California, Illinois, and Texas. OnlineSubmission.
Silva,E. (2007). Onthe Clock: Rethinking the way schools use time.Washington, DC: Education Sector.
StGerard, V. (2007). Year-Round Schools Look Better All the Time.EducationDigest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review,72(8),56-58.
Weiss,J., & Brown, R. (2003). Telling tales over time: Constructing anddeconstructing the school calendar. TheTeachers College Record,105(9),1720-1757.