The School Calendar: An Examination of Its Past, Present, and Potential
Butchart, Josh Karl
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This paper reviews the existing research and literature on the school calendar - its history, purpose, contemporary issues, and potential alternatives - and analyzes the feasibility of altering the calendar model as an educational reform. In the first chapter, it addresses the formation and endurance of the standard school calendar, looking specifically at the intentions behind its origins. It also offers examples of the occasional attempts at modifying that calendar throughout the decades. The second chapter examines the contemporary research on the effects of summer vacation on learning rates, the role of time in schools, and international comparisons of time use. The third chapter offers an explanation of alternative calendar models, such as year-round education (YRE) and extended year systems (EY), along with a literature review of the effectiveness of the various calendars. The fourth chapter attempts a policy analysis of the three calendar options - maintaining the traditional calendar, extended year calendars, and redesigned calendars - including a discussion of their marginal benefits and deficiencies, and their political feasibility. The conclusion of the paper attempt to contextualize these four aspects - the origins of the school calendar, the contemporary research on its effects, alternative models, and the effects and potential the various models - and balance those aspects (Green, 1994) in terms of public versus private good (Labaree, 1997). It also offers suggestions for further research that may lead to more informed policy in the future.
- Education - Seattle