Summer Break Could Be Making Kids Across America Dumber

If you thought all students were on summer break right now, you’d be wrong.

In San Diego, the school year is wrapping up this week, while several public elementary schools in Atlanta are just getting started. Schools everywhere from Los Angeles to Chicago have moved up their start dates, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.

Year-round school terms — which have shorter and more frequent breaks — have been implemented in school systems across the country, often to mixed results. However, where they do succeed, year-round school calendars can be a means to improve knowledge retention and academic sharpness. 

Here are some recent findings in support of year-round education:

  • Over summer break, students lose between one and three months worth of maths and reading skills they learned during the academic year, an education professor at Duke University found.
  • Summer learning loss can account for two-thirds of the three grade level achievement gap between high-income and low-income students, Time reported.
  • By not being a classroom for an extended period of time, summer break may dull the intellect of students who are not being academically stimulated, according to California’s Department of Education.
  • More breaks spread over the year means that teachers don’t have to spend as much time covering old material, and allow them to offer continuous intersession help, rather than one large block of summer school.
  • Countries are continuously passing the U.S. in educational attainment, including Canada, whose students are a full school year ahead of those in America, an education official at the OECD said in 2010. Compared to other industrialized countries, the U.S. school calendar is two weeks shorter than the average, according to the WSJ.

Critics of year-round education argue that the changed calendar has no impact on test scores and offers a host of logistical concerns. However, it seems that the pros of the system may outweigh the cons. 

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