Pros and Cons of Year-Round School

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Year-round school in the United States is neither a new concept nor an unusual one. Traditional school calendars and year-round schedules both provide students with about 180 days in the classroom. But instead of taking off much of the summertime, year-round school programs take a series of shorter breaks throughout the year. Advocates say the shorter breaks make it easier for students to retain knowledge and are less disruptive to the learning process. Detractors say the evidence to support this assertion is unconvincing.

Traditional School Calendars

Most public schools in America operate on the 10-month system, which gives students 180 days in the classroom. The school year typically begins a few weeks before or after Labor Day and concludes around Memorial Day, with time off during Christmas and New Year's and again around Easter. This school schedule has been the default since the earliest days of the nation when the U.S. was still an agrarian society, and children were needed to work in the fields during the summer.

Year-Round Schools

Educators began experimenting with a more balanced school calendar in the early 1900s, but the idea of a year-round model didn't really catch on until the 1970s. Some advocates said it would help students retain knowledge. Others said it could help schools reduce overcrowding by staggering start times throughout the year. 

The most common application of year-round education uses the 45-15 plan. Students attend school for 45 days, or about nine weeks, then take off for three weeks, or 15 school days. The normal breaks for holidays and spring remain in place with this calendar. Other ways to organize the calendar include the 60-20 and 90-30 plans.

Single-track year-round education involves an entire school using the same calendar and getting the same holidays off. Multiple-track year-round education puts groups of students in school at different times with different vacations. Multitracking usually occurs when school districts want to save money.

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Arguments in Favor

As of 2017, nearly 4,000 public schools in the U.S. follow a year-round schedule—around 10 percent of the nation's students. Some of the most common reasons in favor of year-round schooling are as follows:

  • Students tend to forget a lot during the summer, and shorter vacations might increase retention rates.
  • School buildings unused in the summer are wasted resources.
  • Short breaks provide time for students to receive enrichment education.
  • Remediation can occur when it is most needed during the school year.
  • Students get bored during the long break of summer.
  • It gives families more options for scheduling vacations, rather than restricting travel to summertime.
  • Other countries around the world use this system.
  • Schools on year-round schedules can accommodate more students through multitracking.
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Arguments Against

Opponents say year-round schooling hasn't proven to be as effective as its advocates claim. Some parents also complain that such schedules make it more difficult to plan family vacations or child care. Some of the most common arguments against year-round schools include:

  • Studies have not conclusively proven the academic benefits.
  • Students forget information just as easily with a three-week break as 10. Therefore, teachers on a year-round system end up with four periods of review instead of just one at a new school year.
  • Summer programs such as youth camps suffer.
  • Student summer employment becomes virtually impossible.
  • Many older school buildings do not have air conditioning, making a year-round schedule impractical.
  • Band and other extracurricular programs can run into problems scheduling practices and competitions, which often take place during the summer months.
  • With multitracking, parents could have students at the same school on different schedules.

School administrators considering year-round education should identify their goals and investigate whether a new calendar can help achieve them. When implementing any significant change, involving all stakeholders in the decision and the process improves the outcome. If students, teachers, and parents don't support a new schedule, a transition could be difficult.


National Education Association staff. "Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education.", 2017. staff. "Schools Without Summer Break: An In-Depth Look at Year-Round Schooling.", 12 April 2017.

Weller, Chris. "Year-Round School is Booming but Its Benefits Are Overhyped.", 5 June 2017.

Zubrzycki, Jacklyn. "Year-Round Schooling Explained.", 18 December 2015.

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Kelly, Melissa. "Pros and Cons of Year-Round School." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Kelly, Melissa. (2020, August 28). Pros and Cons of Year-Round School. Retrieved from Kelly, Melissa. "Pros and Cons of Year-Round School." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).