School All Year Round

I think about schools a lot. I do it even more now that I’m involved in schooling again, vicariously.

I mostly think about alternate systems of education, the other ways to skin this cat. Lately, I’m more and more enamored with the idea of a year-round school where there are four quarters, and students can pick 3 to attend, choosing when the Big Break will be winter, summer, spring, or fall.

I did a search on it:


Year-round education (YRE) is a concept which reorganizes the school year to provide more continuous learning by spacing the long summer vacation into shorter, more frequent vacations throughout the year (Johnson, 2000). Year-round schools may be on a single-track or multi-track schedule. A single-track schedule generally calls for an instructional year of 180 days, with short breaks (or intersessions) interspersed throughout the school year. A multi-track schedule staggers the instructional and vacation/intersession periods of each track throughout the entire year, so that some students are receiving instruction while others are on vacation.

For example, in a single-track 45/15 design, the year is divided into four nine-week terms separated by three-week vacations or intersessions. All students and teachers attend school for nine weeks (45 days), then are on a three-week vacation (15 days). This sequence is repeated four times each year. Alternatively, in a multi-track 45/15 design, students are normally divided into four groups. During a 12-week period, all students receive nine weeks of instruction and three weeks of vacation, but only three of the four groups are in school at one time, while the fourth group is on vacation. When the vacation group returns, another group leaves for a three-week vacation.

Thus, in the multi-track configuration, the enrollment in existing schools can be increased by one-third, or, alternatively, current class size can be reduced (Minnesota, 1999). Moreover, money which would otherwise have been spent on construction of new schools may be utilized to pay additional salary to teachers who elect to extend their contract on the multi-track year-round schedule. Therefore, the annual income of these teachers can conceivably be increased by one-third, and the effective supply of teachers can be increased by one-third (Liebman, 1959). Although each schedule has unique benefits and challenges for the teaching staff, neither schedule implies that the teacher will be working the entire year.

I like the idea of multi-track system. Whether you break it up by quarters or three week breaks out of 12, it opens possibilities. You can decrease class size by 33%. Teachers either get paid more, or more teachers are hired, or a mix. Since there is a dearth of good teachers, you get the opportunity to use the teachers you have more.

The effect on the economy would be interesting as well: It would, to an extent, load balance things like vacation crowds (the lines at Disney will equalize throughout the year, assuming the whole country switched over) and “summer jobs”.

Something to think about.