Year-round schooling would help minority students

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In my previous two posts, I've emphasized the need for all American K-12 schools to transition to a year-round school calendar. I've highlighted and debunked the most common arguments against year-round schooling and called for educators to stand behind a push to shift to a more consistent school calendar that maximizes student learning. Perhaps one of the strongest arguments in favor of year-round schooling however is the boost it would give to minority and other traditionally disadvantaged groups.

About More than Academics

Anna Habash of Education Trust, a nonprofit that works with schools to better serve their student populations, says that for minorities, a year-round school schedule does more than help academically. In an interview with Education News, Habash said that schools with high numbers of poverty and minority students benefit greatly from year-round schooling because it keep students "on task" and leads to more "meaningful instruction." When there are not a lot of academically sound options at home, students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from the consistency of classroom instruction on a streamlined schedule, without large gaps of time away from it. A recent Congressional Research Service report also found that of year-round school attendees, 75 percent were receiving free or reduced lunches.

It is well-documented that minorities drop out of high school at rates that are higher than their white counterparts. The solution to this problem, according to some like Jessica Washington of Politic365, is year-round schooling. She reports that the national dropout rate is 5 percent, while the dropout rate for year-round school students is just 2 percent. These dropout statistics are not broken down by racial or socioeconomic backgrounds, but it stands to reason that if the overall dropout rate is lower for year-round schooling setups, the minority dropout rates in this model are also lower. The reasons why dropout rates are lower in year-round setups are easy to deduce: students have less time to adjust to time off from school, and in the case of high schoolers, they have less time to work.

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