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Do We Need a Longer School Year ???

“Jennifer Davis writes that while summer holds a special place in our hearts: lazy afternoons, camping at the lake, warm evenings gazing at the moon, languid summers can be educationally detrimental, with most youth losing about two months of grade-level equivalency in math computational skills over the summer and students from low-income families falling even further behind. A consensus is building that the traditional nine-month school year might be a relic of the 20th century that has no place in an increasingly competitive global work force and an analysis of charter schools in New York reveals that students are most likely to outperform peers if they attend schools that are open at least 10 days more than the conventional year. What of the idea that summer should be a time of respite from the stresses of school? There are two wrong notions wrapped up in this perspective. The first is that somehow summer is automatically a magical time for children but as one fifth-grader, happy to be back at school in August, declared, ‘Sometimes summer is really boring. We just sit there and watch TV.’ The second mis-perception is that school is automatically bereft of the excitement and joy of learning. On the contrary, as the National Center on Time and Learning describes in its studies of schools that operate with significantly more time, educators use the longer days and years to enhance the content and methods of the classroom. ‘We should expect our schools to furnish today’s students with the education they will need to excel in our global society,’ says Davis. ‘But we must also be willing to provide schools the tools they need to ensure this outcome, including the flexibility to turn the lazy days of summer into the season of learning.'”

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