CBS 6 News released their version of an investigative report into year-round schooling on Thursday. CBS 6 contends that Petersburg School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Melvin may be wrong in thinking year-round schools are the answer to those schools failing to meet state standards.
Dr. Melvin has been pushing for year-round schooling at A.P. Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle School. These two schools have repeatedly failed in the Standards of Learning tests over the past several years.
The Petersburg School Board has done their homework on this pressing issue, and should certainly be commended on taking the initiative and putting the education of the students first.
The "expert," Dr. Bill Bosher, a former state superintendent, quite rightly said the research is incomplete, and at best, slightly biased in some respects. But at the same time, year-round schooling does have its place, if used for the right reasons.
It is also apparent that the public may need to know more on the subject of year-round schooling, thereby justifying any knowledgeable response.
The traditional school calendar calls for 180 days of classroom teaching along with a lengthly summer vacation. Year-round school calendars call for the basic 180 days of instruction too, and do not extend the amount of time a student spends in class.
Year-round schooling actually distributes instructional time more equitably. This more efficient use of instructional time gives rise to programs having an enriched and voluntary remediation basis, as well as the benefits of accelerated teaching.
To date there are approximately 3,000 schools nationwide that have opted for the year-round schooling program, enrolling about 2 million students. While YRS is still considered to be in the research phase, the schooling is also considered to be a reform effort.
YRS defined by number of tracks used
Year-round schools are also defined by the number of "tracks" they use as part of their protocol. There are basically two tracks, single or multi-tracks. All this means is that there is a better way to alleviate over-crowding besides running around building new facilities.
In a single-track system, everyone goes to school at the same time, and attends classes at the same time. A multi-track system is used when over-crowding is a problem. Students are broken up into groups, and each group will have its very own schedule, apart from others in the system.
Again, the multi-track system is often used in schools where over-crowding is a problem. The avoidance of building new facilities is a key reward of this system when it is handled properly.
Educational advantages to the disadvantaged
Much has been said about the lack of an educational advantage when using YRS. The one good thing about YRS is the learning advantage it has for students with learning disadvantages. This is where Petersburg Superintendent Dr. Joseph Melvin is right on par.
Many of Petersburgs students are disadvantaged economically and educationally. Three months of summer vacation may be good for some children, but when a child is deprived of adequate nourishment, anything learned during the regular school year is forgotten during those three months.
This is where the experts are seeing positive results, and while nothing is perfect, the fact that improvement is possible is worth the effort of trying. Petersburg School Board Chairman Kenneth Pritchett said this about year-round schooling,
“When we met with the consultants and the consultants came here and they gave a presentation to the school board….. that we are moving in the right direction, and this is something that we are willing to try.”