Pros and Cons of Year-Round School

Students with hands raised in classroom.

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Year-round school calendars offer the same 160 to 180 days of schooling as the traditional nine-month school calendar. The difference is that the school vacations are distributed over the year rather than primarily in the summer. The long summer break is believed to have been created to ensure children were home to help parents harvest crops on family farms, a need that is no longer relevant for most families.

While the year-round schedule is not what most adults remember from their own school experience, it may not be as challenging or undesirable as some assume it to be. Children are not given less time off, but instead, the usual nine months on, three months off schedule is redistributed with a schedule of short instruction periods that alternate with shorter breaks across the whole year.

Learn more about the pros and cons of year-round school.

The Debate Over Year-Round School

Proponents of year-round schools say it may be a way to increase academic achievement and be beneficial to many working families, but opponents have also identified potential drawbacks. The debate over year-round schools has uncovered numerous pros and cons to be weighed by parents considering whether it is the right choice for their children and larger school community.

The Pros and Cons of Year-Round School
Pros Cons
Reduces learning loss over summer break Costs to implement the new schedule
No need for summer break Higher operating costs in the summer
Evenly distributed breaks for vacations Teens could not have summer jobs
Consistent year-round childcare need Siblings may be on different multi-track schedules
Uses a multi-track system to maximize school use Students would not have summer sports, summer camps
Makes teaching a full-time profession Could be challenging to pay teachers for year-round work

Pros of Year-Round School 

Some of the pros of year-round schooling include:

  • Decreased need to re-teach skills after long vacations, allowing teachers to use classroom time more efficiently.
  • Extending the school year may help make teaching a full-time, more lucrative profession for educators if year-round schools can cut costs through multi-tracking programs.
  • Families who struggle to find childcare or pay childcare expenses will benefit, as will children who are in sub-par childcare during summer vacation or after school care.
  • Multi-tracking programs, those in which groups of students are on different school schedules, may allow for more school consolidation.
  • Remediation needs can be addressed during the school year as opposed to during summer programs, possibly decreasing the need to include summer school in local budgets.
  • Shorter summer breaks mean students are less likely to incur summer learning loss, which may increase academic performance for underprivileged children and decrease the number of students being served by intervention programs.
  • Vacation time can be more evenly distributed throughout the year, making it easier to schedule family vacations and for students to revitalize themselves more frequently.

Cons of Year-Round School

Some of the arguments against year-round schooling include:

  • Children in year-round schools would not be able to participate in sports teams or programs that operate in the summertime.
  • Initial costs associated with starting or changing a traditional school to a year-round school are high.
  • Multi-tracking programs mean that parents could possibly have children that are on different schedules.
  • School budgets and staffing issues simply may not allow for extended school-year programs. Many schools already struggle to pay teachers a competitive wage, making it hard to keep high-quality teachers. The cost of teaching as a full-time endeavor may not be feasible either locally or federally.
  • School maintenance costs, including day-to-day upkeep, air-conditioning, and utilities, can increase significantly t if schools are open during the summer.
  • Students in year-round school may miss out on opportunities to spend time with children of other ages while learning about nature, as typical summer camp experiences may no longer be a part of the childhood experience.
  • Teens who need to work to help support themselves or make money for college may have difficulty holding or finding a job if they do not have the entire summer off.

Increasing Popularity of Year-Round School

Frederick M. Hess, director of Education Policy Studies of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, notes that few countries offer more than seven consecutive weeks of vacation for students. This contrasts with the United States' average of 13 weeks.

In a 2008 report titled "Summer Vacation Is No Longer Necessary," Hess suggested that following the agrarian calendar is an anachronistic way of running schools—that, although year-round school calendars are not a uniform solution, families should have more options for schools that operate year-round.

That opinion is gaining traction. In fact, a growing number of schools have opted to transition to a year-round calendar model.

According to an education policy report prepared for members of Congress in 2014, the number of year-round schools went from 410 (educating 350,000 students) in the 1980s to more than 3,700 (educating two million students) across 45 states in 2012.

Such growth in the numbers has school officials looking into research that examines both benefits in learning for students, but also how year-round schools affect the overall cost of education for all parties involved.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Education Association. Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education.

  2. Hess, Frederick M. Summer Vacation Is No Longer Necessary. Year-Round Schools. Ed. Adriane Ruggiero. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008.

  3. Skinner RR. Year-Round Schools: In Brief. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. 2014.