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What research says . . .

On this page you will find  research reviews on school calendar studies by academics and  summaries of research from  media, magazine articles and other reports.

This page will be a handy reference guide for school study committees, grassroots groups and students. New postings will be made as new information becomes available or as it is brought to our attention.

                                                                                         Updated July 22, 2001

The following Research Review was prepared by
Chris Newland, a professor of psychology,
whose own children would have been affected by
a decision in Auburn, Ala., to switch to a year-round calendar. Newland's extensive review was presented to
the Auburn School Board, which later
decided against the move to a year-round calendar.

Academic Impact of Year Round Schooling
An Annotated Bibliography  

Compiled by
M. C. Newland, Ph.D.
Auburn University, Alabama

26 September, 1998

This is a review of some of the representative studies and reviews of year-round school calendars, preceded by some observations precipitated by having read through scores of studies.

Studies were selected for review because of their relevance, detailed analysis, or because they have figured in discussions of the year-round calendar in Auburn City Schools in Alabama.

The first set of notes describe studies for which I had access to the original paper. The second set are of summaries from the ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) database. Each set is listed in order of the year of publication. 

Calendar Change: An Inert Intervention

The only reasonable conclusion that can be reached from this body of literature is that changing the calendar, per se, is inert educationally.

            A reduction in class size might be beneficial. The addition of remedial or other programs might be beneficial. But none of these things is linked in any way to the calendar; they can be added without any modification of the traditional calendar. My review leads me to conclude that, academically, changing the calendar is about as useful as changing the color of the school buses. For many school systems (certainly for ours) it is very disruptive and a "reform" that has a high cost and little benefit.

Summer Learning Loss: False Assumptions

False Assumption No. 1

Relatively little forgetting occurs between September and June.

           One argument in this literature is that the "year-round" calendar reduces summer learning loss. Consider the assumptions behind the contention that reducing summer from 12 weeks to 6 weeks is going to have much of an impact. It assumes that relatively little forgetting occurs between September and June but a huge amount of forgetting takes place between July and September. This seems implausible on the face of it. Moreover, the  difficulties of measuring such loss are often dismissed but they are large.

           For example, in  order to document summer learning loss it is necessary to determine what is actually known in the spring and what is not known in the fall. This seemingly simple strategy is rarely followed. The one attempt to address this issue, which was accomplished in a literature review,  can not be used in support of the view that changing the calendar will have academic benefit  (see: Cooper et al., 1986, reviewed below). 

False Assumption No. 2
All learning and all forgetting is the same. It is not.

            Also lying behind this argument is, often, the assumption that all learning, and all forgetting is the same. It is not. Learning how to multiply is quite different from memorizing the twelve-times tables. Learning how to critique an argument, read a story, or think through a scientific argument is quite different from memorizing the name of an debate strategy, author of a story, or an obscure scientific fact.

Education is not the cumulative memorization of obscure, quickly-forgotten facts,  but the acquisition of fluency in selected content areas and the ability to speak, write, and analyze critically. Knowing how to do these things is not quickly forgotten. So what if some facts are forgotten in a few weeks? If they are needed for a later course then the student can be reminded of it at the appropriate time.

Intersessions Only Pretend to Fix Problem

Also inspect closely arguments that intersessions will allow struggling students to catch up with their peers. 

           These are students who are not doing well in school, may not have the resources as some of their peers, and may not even enjoy being in school. Then they are asked  to attend more school, which is often more of the same activity that they have already failed at, and to make up for nine weeks of failure in two weeks of intersession.  This makes no sense but, far worse, it pretends to solve a very serious problem while cheating the student out of an education and cheating society of an educated citizen. 

The data do not provide any believable evidence that intersessions will help struggling or at-risk students. In many settings it has been reported that attendance at intersessions is poor, especially in the case of remedial sessions for at-risk students.

Education is too important to leave to changes that may sound good but that only pretend to fix a problem. Changing the calendar is cheap, to be sure, but you get what you pay for. Education is expensive, and educating the students with impoverished backgrounds or other barriers to academic achievement may be one of the most expensive, and useful, things that we can do. 

              The topsy-turvy world in which educators work in should be inspected, not the calendars. Who gets the least money and the teachers with the least experience? Those schools most desperate for seasoned professionals and a lot of resources.

Why isn't teaching like other professions? Why doesn't it reward the hard jobs and make filling them an honor reserved for the best and the brightest, and not a drudgery reserved for those who can't get the good jobs?

The editorial ends here. 

What follows is an annotated bibliography of studies that have figured into the debate over putative academic benefits said to result from a change in the calendar.

Merino, B.J. (1983) The impact of year-round schooling: A review.  Urban Education, 18, 298-316.

1.                  This is a review of the literature available at the time of writing. It concluded that while YRS may be useful for some things, it has no beneficial or detrimental impact on academics.

2.                   "Most studies found no significant differences between the two types of schedules with two actually showing negative effects for year-round schooling." Those two were elementary students in 3rd through 6th grade in reading, language arts, and math. In a school with 50% Spanish surnamed, 9th grade algebra students on a 45/15 plan performed worse than a control school.

3.                  My conclusion: There's no effect to be seen. These effects appear scattered across a lot of comparisons and could be random and insignificant.

Cooper, H.,  Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., Greathouse, S.  (1986) The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and Meta-analytic review.  Bulletin of Educational Research, 66, 227-268.

1.                  This is a review of several empirical studies, one a very large federal one. No study reviewed involved an alternative year calendar. The studies compared the performance of children on different tests just before summer vacation with their performance when they return in the fall.  Any conclusions can only apply to a proposal to reduce summer vacation to ZERO.  The analysis is rather involved, but the results can be summarized.

2.                  It is surprising that this review has been used by advocates of changing the calendar because it is said in the discussion, that the data are not relevant to modifications in the summer calendar, [such as would be seen in going from a traditional to a year-round calendar]. Instead, it is set up, statistically,  to compare 12  weeks (or more) of summer with zero summer.

The present synthesis does not assess whether alternative calendars, such as those that include the present number of school days but distribute shorter and more frequent vacations throughout the year, are actually more effective than the present calendar.
(P 264, top)

3.                  Some students benefited from long summer vacations, some forgot things, but in most studies the net effect of summer vacation was close to zero. On average, students returned to school in the fall close to where they left off in the spring, with some forgetting of facts in which students had not become fluent.

4.                  There was some (weak) evidence that students diagnosed as learning disabled or considered to be at-risk showed some loss during the summer, especially where the memorization of facts was required. The overall effect is usually small, and depends on subject matter and economic advantage. A “stem-and-leaf” diagram (a type of data display taught in first-year Algebra in Alabama) shows that the bulk of the distribution of effects lies very close to zero, and that the mean is affected by points at the extremes of the distribution.

5.                  Concepts, reading skills, math concepts, grammar, and similar things (“knowing how to do something”) are relatively unaffected by the summer break. This form of knowledge is akin to knowing how to ride a bicycle or how to carry out well-practiced arithmetic tasks (“once you’ve learned to ride a bicycle....”). Computation, spelling, and science facts showed some loss. This type of learning is sometimes referred to as “knowing that,” as in knowing that WWII began in 1941. This might involve foreign language vocabulary, arithmetic facts (e.g., 9 X 7=63) and similar things. The study says nothing about when forgetting occurs.

6.                  Students who were able to use the summer vacation by reading or going to summer camps benefited from these opportunities.  It is important to note that the analysis is of the entire summer vacation. If you take these results and apply them to reducing summer vacation by a few weeks, then the only conclusion is that any effect would be too small to detect. In fact, using his formula for computing learning loss (with the highly questionable assumption of linearity) indicates that reducing summer from 12 to six weeks amounts to about a day or two of class time, and probably less.

7.                  Reasonable conclusions from this review are


the reduction in summer vacation produced by year-round schools would probably not result in a detectable benefit for at-risk or learning-disabled children, or the effect would be small.


a year-round calendar would prevent children who attend summer activities from doing so.


 the long lag between courses in similar content areas (e.g., 6-9 month lags between math courses) imposed by some block schedules could present a serious problem.

Peltier, G.L. (1991). Year-round education: The controversy and research evidence. NASSP Bulletin. 75, 120-129.

       This is a narrative review of some of the advantages and disadvantages of year-round schools. The emphasis is on multi-track plans. The following two quotes are relevant:


 “Studies have indicated that there is no significant difference in achievement (as measured by standardized tests) between students on a year-round schedule and those on a traditional nine month schedule” (p. 122, 3 references cited in support).


 “One of the advantages often cited for year-round education is the need for less review time because of shorter vacation. For all but the slow students, the four to six weeks of review in the traditional school is wasted time” (p. 122).The support for this last claim is a single citation to Ballinger, the founder of an advocacy group called “National Association for Year-Round Education.” 

Alcorn, R. (1992) Test scores: Can year-round school raise them? Thrust for Educational Leadership. April. Pp 12-15.

1.                  Review of experience with San Diego school system.  This is a very large school system that went to year-round schooling because of population growth coupled with painful cuts in state funding for education, which  resulted in severe overcrowding. Demographically this is a very different system from Auburn’s. For example, this is a large urban system that includes a sizeable population of students with limited proficiency in English.

2.                  The transition to year-round schooling alleviated much of the overcrowding. This is an important consideration in the analysis of any transition from traditional to multi-track calendars because the transition can often include sizeable reductions in class size, and such reductions can result in many improvements, including academics, morale, and "burn-out."

3.                  . “The year round school organization should be considered as instructional strategy to meet the needs of . . .  educational disadvantaged students . . . students who are in danger of dropping out of school and can make up work during intersessions, and limited-English proficient students who may benefit from a language acquisition program that provides for continuous learning throughout the year.” Unfortunately, the data don't support even this modest conclusion.

4.                  A more detailed picture is described in an ERS report of the San Diego experience (summarized below) and the picture there is much more mixed. Note that this change in the calendar included intersessions, another confound.   

O'Neil and Solomon. (1993) When less is more. The American School Board Journal. April. 39-41.

1.                  Encourages the use of year-round schooling as a solution to enrollment increases.          

2.                   ". . . year round schooling has not raised test scores, but neither has student achievement suffered."

3.                  My conclusion: Changing the calendar is inert as far as academics are concerned. If there are other reasons for the change, then fine, but don't pretend that simply changing the calendar will solve serious problems with academics.  

Campbell, W.D. (1994) Year-round schooling for academically at-risk students: Outcomes and perceptions of participants in an elementary program. ERS Spectrum, 12, Summer, 20-24.

1.                  This describes a 45-15, single track YRS with 60 second-grade Chapter 1 (Title 1) students in the YRS. 30 students from four  traditional schools were matched by “home school attendance data.”  This was done in the Carrollton City Schools, (OH).  Statistics were done by t tests. It compared test scores with the perceptions of students, parents, teachers and administrators.

2.                  On the objective measures, there was no significant difference in: 1) achievement gains, 2) absences, 3) promotion rates, 4) reading level or 5) books read. The number of books read came closest to “statistically significant” but the YRS students read fewer books than the traditional year students. 

3.                  On subjective measures, parents, students, and administrators overwhelmingly thought that the YRS helped on basic skills, and administrators also thought it helped attendance. The assessments of teachers, using subjective measures, came closest to the conclusions derived from the objective tests.

4.                   “Analysis of a number of student outcomes (basic skills gains, absences, promotion rates, number of books read, and reading levels) found no significant differences in favor of the year-round students. However, students, administrators, and parents in this study generally believed that the year-round schedule produced benefits in some of these same student outcomes. When perceptions and statistically significant student outcomes were compared, teachers were more accurate in their perceptions.”

5.                  My conclusion: The "Hawthorne Effect," an organizational placebo effect, is a serious confound in that and any study that uses subjective measures from teachers or administrators rather than objective measures of student performance.  

ERS report # 7112. Report on  single-track year-round education in San Diego unified school district. (1994). 87 pages, 25 tables, 9 figures.

1.                  Detailed analysis of  San Diego elementary and middle schools. Some were on a single track year-round school, others were not.  The schools studied had been on their calendar for at least 10 years before the study began, and the study lasted for 3 years.

2.                  Studied only the stable students who had experienced the year-round school (or not, in controls), about 45% of the total population. Students in elementary schools on the year-round calendar did better than those on traditional calendars. In middle school, the reverse held: traditional schools outperformed the year-round schools. The information available on the middle schools was less comprehensive, however. No pre-test was available prior to converting to year-round calendar but the schools were roughly matched (as well as they could be) on socioeconomic status and other demographics.

3.                  There were more student absences in the single-track year-round school, especially in the summer. This resulted in appreciable loss of state revenue, since state funding is based on the number of “student-days,” as is the case in Alabama.

4.                   Appendix A indicates considerable revenue loss in the single-track year-round school because of absences: about $800,000 loss in the year-round school compared with $428,000 in the traditional school (rounded to the nearest thousand).

5.                  There were no consistent differences in teacher absences. Increased expenses were incurred in the single-track year-round school.  Other expenses associated with the single-track year-round school were transportation, staffing, and food services.

6.                  I saw no mention of intersession (I could have overlooked it), but I believe that the San Diego system uses one. See the Alcorn review, summarized elsewhere.   

Greenfield, T.A. (1994) Year-round education: A case for change. The Educational Forum. 58, 252-262.

1.                  This report describes a rural, agricultural Hawaii school district located in a very supportive community whose children generally test above Hawaii averages. They went to single-track YRS voluntarily.

2.                  Both pre-testing and post-testing were performed, in some cases for  a few years before and after the change. They had an intersession program that was popular and well-attended. Some data were offered on standardized tests (Standard Achievement Test) and a locally developed test (no details offered). Little data were presented on demographics, and nothing was said about at-risk children. 

3.                  No evidence for academic change was found and the plan was expensive, even if popular:


“One major expectation--that student academic performance would improve--did not materialize in all the ways anticipated.” (p. 255.)


  “Results did not demonstrate significant score increase across the years in any of the content areas. Neither did the scores of a single cohort of students, tracked for two years before and then again after YRE implementation suggest improved academic performance across time.” (P. 256) [It further said that sporadic improvements were seen] on a locally developed test, but no details were provided.

4.                  The first year YRS was implemented, the system experienced a 20% increase in budget. This declined to 4% and then -1% over the next two years, while other state systems increased. Overall increase over 3 years was 10%. “the YRE program remained more expensive to operate.” (Page 259).  

Kneese, C  and Knight J. (1995), Investigating the effects of single-track year-round education on achievement of at-risk students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Apr. 18-22, San Francisco, CA.

1.                  This is a two- page transcript of a paper read at the American Educational Research Association. It is very brief and evidently has not been published in the open literature. It describes 10  “dual-track” schools (grades 4, 5, 6) in an urban school district “in the Southwest.”  In the dual track school, some students are on “year-round” and some are on a traditional school calendar (TSC). It is not clear how this decision was made for any particular student. Each student on the YRS calendar had two matched students on the YRS calendar: one matched for score on a reading test and another matched for score on a mathematics test.

2.                  The matching and statistics procedures described seemed sophisticated and competently performed.

3.                  YRS students generally outperformed TSC students, and the effects were also seen in at-risk students. No details are provided about other interventions accompanying YRS, about how students elected to go on YRS calendar in the first place, and the makeup of the student population. The difficulty with this study is that it is very brief, unpublished, and does not provide the information required to determine what caused the effects reported.

4.                  In a recent published review of research on year-round calendars (Kneese, C.C. Review of research on student learning in year-round education.  Journal of Research and Development in Education. 1996, 29, 60-71), the senior author, concluded that “practitioners moving toward year-round education have little basis to expect that in and of itself YRE will significantly accelerate achievement unless a dedicated movement to educational reform, including factors such as utilization of the intersession for remediation and curricula changes is accomplished.” 

             Kneese also noted noted that some benefits attributed to year-round calendars could represent a  “Hawthorne Effect.” This is a sort of institutional placebo effect. When an institution experiences a change, even as innocuous as the type of lighting, there is a transient effect on performance and then things return to the previous status.

Roby, D.E. (1995). Comparison of a year-round school and a tradition school: reading and mathematics achievement.  ERS Spectrum. 1995, 7-10.

1.                  Brief, sketchily detailed study. Subjects were "a sample" of 6th grade students in the two schools being compared (74 students in one school, 65 in the other). The study was conducted by a principal in the school district, who was an author of one of the dissertations reviewed by Kneese.

2.                  There were some ambiguities in the description of the statistical analysis. The "effect sizes" (a statistical tactic that compares the difference between two means in terms of variability in the sample),  reported were much larger than typically found in this literature (between 1 and 3 standard deviations compared with 0 to 0.1 standard deviations in other studies). Even so, some effects were statistically significant, others were not. This is odd and difficult to reconcile. One interpretation is that there was a lot of noise in the samples.

3.                  The students in the YRS school did better on math and reading than those in the traditional calendar.

4.                  One thing is noteworthy. The year-round school changed calendars to alleviate a severe overcrowding problem. After the transition, this school and the comparison school had roughly equal class sizes.

5.                  My interpretation: One interpretation is that the relief from overcrowding was a powerful influence over the results. Another is that the statistical analysis is not appropriate to the structure of the data that they had. Finally, since they only compared two schools and the effect was seen in math and reading scores: one school may have had  better math and reading programs than the other.  

 ERS Report # 7113.  Evaluation of the changes at Caldwell Elementary (Memphis, Tennessee) 1995-96. 77 pages, 14 tables, 3 figures.

1.                  Page 19 summarizes the effects as rather mixed. "The percentile scores of Caldwell students in grades 3 and 6 improved from 1995 to 1996 on each of the five major subtests. In grade 2, the percentile scores . . . improved in social studies but declined in the other four sub-tests. In grades 4 and 5, the percentile scores . .. were lower in 1996 than in 1995 of all five major subtests. In 1995, Caldwell's percentiles were below the district's percentiles in 22 of 25 grade levels and subtests and, in 1996, Caldwell was below the district in 23 of 25 grade levels and subtests.

2.                  Oddly enough, the teachers who were interviewed claimed that the shorter breaks contributed to greater retention. It is important to note that many changes were implemented, including an after-school tutoring program.

3.                  There was no effects on student attendance (rates were within 0.3% of one another).

4.                  Interpretation: No consistent effects. Some got better, some got worse, about what you would expect from a lot of random flux


 ERS report # 7111. Evaluation of the three-year year-round education pilot program.: Irving (TX) independent school district, 1995. 86 pages, 12 tables, 3 figures.

1.                  Statistics and lots of data. A simple count of the direction of effects reveals no pattern. Differences were small, and about equally divided between improvement and declines.

2.                  From the summary:


  “Neither the Traditional nor the YRE calendar produced greater [test] achievement gains from 1991-1992 to 1992-1993 or from 1992-93 to 1993-94


  “J. Haley was the traditional comparison school for assessing achievement of bilingual program students. There was no consistent pattern of gains or loss in the 1993-1994 [Spanish norm-referenced test] data. For example, the 3rd graders from Schulze made significant gains in reading while J. Haley students made significant losses on both reading and math. J. Haley students in 4th grade, however, had significant gains in both reading and math while Schulze students had a small loss in math.” Simply: YRS beat traditional in one grade, and lost in the other.


The students in Brown YRE during 1992-1993 had significant achievement gains in both reading and math. The gains held whether students stayed in the YRE program or went back to the TRE program for the 1993-1994 school year. Students in Schulze TRE gained about the same amount in math and had greater gains in reading that the students in YRE.

3.                  Year-round schools were "marginally more effective for some economically disadvantaged students." Also, no discernable effect on attendance by either teachers or students.  

 Naylor, C. (1995) Do year-round schools improve student learning? An annotated bibliography and synthesis of the research. BCTF Research Report. Section XII.

1.                  “There are a substantial number of studies which are conducted by researchers (with no vested interest in either supporting or opposing year-round schooling) which conclude that there appears to be no significant difference in achievement between student in year-round and students in traditional calendar schools.”  

2.                   “Of the studies which conclude that students in year-round schools do achieve at a higher level . . . the differences in achievement are rarely significant” To paraphrase: sometimes the authors provide a far more optimistic summary than the data can support.

3.                  “If the goal of education is to maximize the number of students in poor areas who pass standardized tests in a cost-effective manner then some year-round sites can contribute to this goal. If the mandate of the education system is wider, and if equity is of any concern, then year-round schools are clearly more limited on the evidence to date.”

4 .   Kneese, C.C. (1996) Review of research on student learning in year-round education.  Journal of Research and Development in Education. 29, 60-71.


Reviews 15 studies of  YRS conducted in previous decade. Only two were single-track and these were reported in unpublished doctoral dissertations. Notes that older studies were flawed and the studies reviewed here are better.


 Summary from multi-track schools indicates no consistent effect.


The two single-track studies examined one grade in one school. One on YRS for a year and the other for two years. The sample was small. Sizable improvement in test scores.


Summary says most schools (these? don't know) on single track yea-round do so voluntarily, not due to economic pressure, and are generally middle class.


Also points out that the Hawthorne effect is a real possibility. That is, when an institution experiences a change of some kind, even as innocuous as the type of lighting, there is a transient effect on performance and then things return to the previous status.


This author concludes that “practitioners moving toward year-round education have little basis to expect that in and of itself YRE {year round education} will significantly accelerate achievement unless a dedicated movement to educational reform, including factors such as utilization of the intersession for remediation and curricula changes is accomplished.

Haenn, J.F. (1996) Evaluating the promise of Single-Track Year-Round Schools. ERS Spectrum, Fall, 1996. 27-35.

1.                  This describes two year-round elementary (K-5) schools in the Durham Public School district.  Attending the YRS was voluntary. Intersession remediation and enrichment were offered and were voluntary. Between the two schools the demographics were:  43% African American and 53% White; 15.5% were low socioeconomic status and 84.5% were not.

2.                  About 10 - 15% of students attended intersession. Only 25% - 50% of those attending intersession were free/reduced lunches. The small number of at-risk children attending intersession remediation was discussed as a problem.

3.                  Since this was a voluntary plan, three groups of students could be identified for study: 1) students who chose to stay in the YRS (N=905, 2) students who transferred in from outside the attendance zone (N=115), and 3) those who transferred out to a partner traditional year school (N=159).  

4.                  They did a pretest in May 1994 and a posttest in May 1995. All groups improved. Even those who moved out to a traditional year calendar. While there is much discussion of impressions of how the YRS helped, there was no statistically significant effect of “group.” That is, it did not matter whether the students stayed, moved in, or moved out.

Curry, Janice; Washington, Wanda: Zyskowski, Gloria. (1997 ) Year-round schools evaluation, 1996-1997. Executive summary.

Later information relating to the Austin school system study reviewed below:

                  In an item on National Public Radio's Sunday Edition (25 October 1998) it was reported that Austin (Texas) Independent School System fabricated the test scores of Hispanic and African American students. The tests fabricated, the TAAS (achievement tests used by the state of Texas) are used to rate schools and districts, carry great weight in policy decisions, are noticed by businesses considering relocation, and by house hunters looking for school districts. In all cases of fabrication, low scores were made higher, apparently in an effort to prevent a school from failing to meet state standards.

When I reviewed the nine studies cited in a report by the Auburn (Alabama) City Schools, only one citation (Curry et al.,1997) credibly supported that claim. That one was a long (greater than 80-page), detailed report describing the scores of Hispanic and African-American students on the TAAS in the Austin Independent School District. We now know that those scores are tainted by this fabrication.

It is NOT the contention here that the authors had anything to do with the fabrication or that they were aware of it. Rather, it is the case that the data provided to them for the analysis may have been tainted.  

This report summarizes the experience of 12 elementary schools in Austin Texas that went to a single-track year-round school. The accompanying report is greater than 130 pages long (and I read it and incorporated that into the summary below). The authors conclude that YRS was beneficial in these elementary schools, whose demographics were very different from Auburn’s, but that YRS was so disruptive at the middle school that it should not be continued there. YRS was not imposed in isolation, but accompanied by other reforms that varied across the different schools. Overall the results would be encouraging to people in similar school districts, but see caution above) as more improvements than declines were noted. Some details about this report are important:


 The students in the schools studied were 50% to more than 80% Hispanic and generally poor. For many of these students, English was a second language and in many cases was not mastered well by these students, so bilingual education was a major consideration.


 Comparisons against demographically similar schools in Texas (Figures 41 - 43, pp 96-97) revealed that overall the results were mixed. Economically disadvantaged and Hispanic students on the YRS calendar showed deficits on some tests compared with students in demographically similar schools but on a traditional calendar. Among African-American students, effects were marginal (reading, math) to significant (writing).


Comparisons on a school-by-school basis revealed that some schools showed improved test scores, some schools showed little effect and in some cases there was a decline. The year-round calendar was the constant across these schools, but the schools varied in many things, including teacher training, the sorts of remediation offered, and demographics.


 In some of the school-by-school comparisons, average test score on a state-wide standardized test increased but the percent passing this test decreased. This is difficult to reconcile, but one way this could happen is that the good students got better but the struggling students struggled more.

Year-Round Schools and Achievement in North Carolina. Public Schools of North Carolina Evaluation Brief, Vol 2, Number 2, February, 2000

  1..                  An evaluation of year-round and traditional schools in North Carolina from the 1997-1997 and 1997-1998 school years. Sixty-five schools representing grades 3-8 on a year-round calendar were identified and then traditional-calendar years were identified based on the following matching criteria: located in the same local educational are, grade levels, parental education, percentage of students eligible for free/reduced lunch, number of students, and percent of white students. This is a state report and not a peer-reviewed publication.

2.                      Standardized achievement scores for the two schools were 50.63 and 50.76 in reading (no difference) 50.76 and 50.98 in math. These were not different.

3.                      This study did not distinguish between single-track and multi-track schools. Also, it only included the elementary grades. It may be that year-round high schools are more difficult to find.


 Evans, R.A. (1978) A comparative analysis of the 45-15 plan and the traditional calendar in the Prince William county Public Schools of Virginia. Executive Summary. {from ERIC summary}

1.                    " afforded by the two plans did not differ but attitudes about them were considerably polarized."  

Anon (1987) Year-round schools. "What research says about" series. Number 8. National Education Association data search.  {from ERIC summary}.

1.              "The review found inconclusive evidence linking year-round schools to an increase in student academic achievement. Year-round schools can lead to a moderate savings in potential building costs are considered, but higher costs if potential building costs are not considered."  

 Howell, V.T. (1988) An examination of year-round education: Pros and cons that challenge schooling in America. Evaluative report. {from ERIC Summary}.

1.              "Converting to YRE creates many difficulties and shows no clear advantages. The only systems benefiting over time are those for whom overcrowding had become a devastating problem."  

Rasberry, Quinn (1992). Year-round schools may not be the answer. (ERIC accession number ED353658). {From Eric Summary}

1.                  Three large urban school districts (Los Angeles, Houston, and Prince William County, VA) experimenting with year-round education found no significant positive effects on academic achievement. In two other districts (Lodi, California, and Orange County, Florida) other factors may account for increased student achievement.”

2.                    “. . . year-round schools are not cost-effective to operate unless the student population substantially exceeds traditional school capacity . . . there are increased expenses for air conditioning, maintenance, and staff salaries.”  

 Rogers, L. (1993) The pros and cons of year-round education at the elementary school level. Unpublished thesis. {From ERIC Summary}.

1.                    “The majority of research indicates that Year-Round Education 1) does not conclusively result in increased academic achievement; 2) offers a moderate savings in building and maintenance costs, but an increase in personnel salaries and cooling costs.”