Could ending vacation help kids?

Published 8:38 pm Saturday, July 23, 2016

Should school districts do away with summer breaks? Though students would likely revolt if they did, there’s an argument to be made for year-round education.

“Summer slide,” when children return to school in the fall having lost a full month of learning, is a real problem. It’s especially detrimental to low-income students.

A school district in north Mississippi is seeking to put an end to summer slide. The Corinth School District will still require students to attend 180 days, but for quarters with three-week breaks between them. No more two-month summer vacation.

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Lee Childress, superintendent of Corinth Schools, said the ultimate goal of changing the district’s calendar is to increase student achievement and growth, which the state’s accountability model puts an emphasis on, particularly for low-performing students, the Daily Journal newspaper reported.

Teachers, volunteers and others will do remediation with students during the breaks instead of during the summer, as has been done in the past. The school district will also offer optional enrichment programs for students to attend during those breaks.

Teachers will be paid extra for working during breaks, the newspaper reported.

It’s an interesting concept. Not all school districts have the option of modifying the calendar. Legislation passed last year allows Districts of Innovation to be developed and those districts have the freedom to use methods outside of state regulations, like modifying the school calendar.

What Corinth is doing is worth watching. Should the district find that the year-round schedule is better for student achievement, the state Department of Education should consider allowing other districts to experiment with it.

Of course, parents would have to adjust. There would be less time for family vacations and summer sports. There’s also scheduling concerns if multiple children are on multiple schedules. A year-round schedule also makes it tough for teens to find job opportunities.

Challenges aside, it’s a concept that deserves closer inspection.