EDITORIAL: Year-round school doesn’t help learning

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Advocates of a year-round school calendar believe that with shorter breaks children will retain more information than they do with the current 2½-month summer vacation.

Yet as recently as the late 1980s, then Indiana Lt. Gov. John Mutz was advocating a return to a school year that begins after Labor Day and ends by Memorial Day, giving students slightly more than a three-month summer vacation. Among his reasons for that suggestion was it would help the state’s tourism industry.

We tend to side with Mutz, or at least believe that the current school year of mid-August to late May employed by all Perry County schools and most in the state should not be lengthened.

Lincoln, an elementary school in Evansville, announced this month it is switching back to such a calendar after having year-round school since 1996. The reason was that an investigation showed that under the year-round calendar, ISTEP tests have remained basically flat for the past several years.

In other words, students weren’t really retaining more information with year-round school.

The fact is that a lot of information learned in school is going to be forgotten regardless of what school calendar is used. That was the premise that made the television game show, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” a hit a few years ago.

If teachers present the information in a more dynamic way, students will remember more of it, regardless of the school calendar used.

And some information needs to be repeated to adequately sink in. So we think that a three-month summer vacation followed by a school year that begins with some review of information presented the previous year — the way textbooks that we remember were designed – is probably the most effective way to retain the most information.

It also gives families with children more time to take vacations or enjoy area tourist attractions such as Holiday World and camping, fishing and swimming sites such as those in the Hoosier National Forest.

And it allows older students more time to participate in summer jobs if they wish. That could help them save more money for college and not be burdened by enormous student-loan debt after they graduate.

In short, the benefits of students’ having a 2½-month summer vacation outweigh those of year-round school.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. E-mail us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.