- NC Policy Watch - http://www.ncpolicywatch.com -

Dealing with growth

In CMS and elsewhere, crowded schools look for options

Research is mixed on the educational value of year-round schools. One recent study found that year-round students perform only marginally better on standardized tests than those who attend traditional-schedule schools. The study showed the educational advantages are higher for low-income students who benefit more from shorter breaks from the classroom.

When the school year is actually longer than the traditional 180-day calendar, and when the school days are longer, the data is more compelling. States as varied as Massachusetts and California have documented significant academic improvement in year-round schools. So have charter schools and KIPP academies.

But for many N.C. school leaders, year-round schools come down to what a Clark County (Las Vegas) parent said recently of the strategy there: "You put more butts in seats." Clark County can’t avoid that need. It has well over 250,000 students, and grows by 12,000 students annually.

Yet using year-round schools is not a strategy many in North Carolina eagerly embrace. Said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman in Monday’s Observer: "It’s an option which we really don’t want to use. But what if we’re not able to get other facilities? … I’m not saying that as a threat. We want to look at all of our options." (more…) [1]