Social Determinants of Health: Year-Round Schooling
Summary of CPSTF Finding
The evidence on effectiveness of single-track year-round schools is insufficient because the role of intersession programs is unclear. Intersession programs are offered between regular school sessions and may be used for remedial or accelerated course work.
The evidence for multi-track year-round schools is also insufficient. If these programs are implemented, it is important that students be equitably assigned to tracks that have equivalent resources.
There are two forms of year-round schooling:
- Single-track: all students participate in the same school calendar. In place of long breaks such as summer vacation, shorter breaks are distributed more evenly throughout the year. Schools may offer intersession programs with remedial or accelerated classes. Single-track programs are generally implemented to address the problems of summer loss and achievement gaps.
- Multi-track: students are grouped into “tracks” and each one has its own schedule. There is always one track on break while the others are in session, and breaks are distributed throughout the year. Except for certain holidays, schools remains open year-round. Multi-track programs are generally implemented to address school crowding and take advantage of school facilities that are closed and empty during summer.
CPSTF Finding and Rationale Statement
About The Systematic Review
Of the 47 studies from the meta-analysis, 23 specified whether the calendar was single- or multi-track. In combination, 18 studies evaluated single-track year-round calendars and 11 evaluated multi-track year-round calendars. One study (Graves 2010) is counted twice because it evaluated both single- and multi-track programs, and another study (Wu et al., 2010) is not included because it evaluated both single- and multi-track programs together.
The systematic review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to promoting health equity.
Summary of Results
Cooper et al. meta-analysis
- Studies of single-track year-round calendars showed small and consistent improvements in standardized achievement test scores (15 studies)
- Studies of multi-track year-round calendars showed inconsistent results for standardized achievement test scores (8 studies)
- There was no significant difference of effect between studies that did and did not include intersession programs
Evidence from the updated search
- Studies of single-track year-round calendar reported mixed findings (3 studies). The role of intersession in single-track programs was not clear.
- Studies of multi-track year-round calendar reported mostly negative outcomes (3 studies).
Summary of Economic Evidence
- Is there an optimal spacing of school days and breaks for purposes of learning?
- Does optimal spacing match a particular calendar design?
- Single-track calendars
- Are single-track calendars effective in the absence of intersession programs? Does the intersession account for the benefit of single-track calendars?
- Multi-track calendars
- How is track placement achieved and how can equity be assured?
- Outcomes included student scores on standardized tests administered at national or state levels.
- All studies were conducted in the United States.
- In the Cooper et al. meta-analysis, year-round schooling was implemented in elementary (23 studies) and secondary (9 studies) schools in urban (18 studies), suburban (6 studies), and rural (5 studies) school districts.
- In studies from the updated search, year-round schooling was implemented in elementary schools (3 studies), high schools (1 study), and a combination of elementary, middle and high schools (2 studies). Three studies evaluated interventions in mixed urban/suburban or rural (3 studies) settings, and 3 studies did not report this information.
When starting an effectiveness review, the systematic review team develops an analytic framework. The analytic framework illustrates how the intervention approach is thought to affect public health. It guides the search for evidence and may be used to summarize the evidence collected. The analytic framework often includes intermediate outcomes, potential effect modifiers, potential harms, and potential additional benefits.
Summary Evidence Table
Summary Evidence Table Studies From the Updated Search (March 2002-August 2016)
Refer to Cooper, et al. (2003) for evidence from the published systematic review.
Brown J, Sarte S, Francis K, Rest G, Reynolds D; Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. Report To the Governor and The General Assembly of Virginia: Review of Year-Round Schools; October 2012; Richmond, Virginia. Available from URL:http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/reports/Rpt430.pdf
Graves, J. The academic impact of multi-track year-round school calendars: a response to school overcrowding. J Urban Econ 2010;67:378 91.
Mitchell RE and Mitchell DE. Student segregation and achievement tracking in year-round schools. Teachers College Record 2005;107(4):529 62.
McMullen SC. The impact of year-round schooling on academic achievement: evidence from mandatory school calendar conversions. American Econ J 2012;4(4):230 52.
Ramos BK. Breaking the tradition of summer vacation to raise academic achievement. ERS Spectrum 2011;29(4):1-20.
Wu AD. Does Year Round Schooling Affect the Outcome and Growth of California’s API Scores? J Educ Res & Policy Studies 2010;10(1):79 97.
Additional References Related to the Included Studies
Graves J. Effects of year-round schooling on disadvantaged students and the distribution of standardized test performance. Econ Educ Rev 2011;30:1281 305.
McMullen SC, Rouse KE, Haan J. The distributional effects of the multi-track tear-round calendar: a quantile regression approach. Applied Econ Letters 2015;22(15):1188 92.
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The Community Preventive Services Task Force finding is based on evidence from a systematic review published in 2003 (Cooper et al., search period through March 2002, 47 studies) and a Community Guide update (5 studies; search period March 2002-August 2016). To update the search, the review team used the search strategy listed below.
The following databases were searched for English-language papers that evaluated the impact of modified school time programs:
The literature search covered interventions modifying school time by either expanding school time or rearranging school calendar to create year-round schooling without expanding school time. For the review on year-round schooling, Community Guide staff limited the search to databases used by Cooper et al (except for Dissertation Abstracts, which was excluded because we did not include dissertations in the update).
Following are the search strategies used for this review.
Database: ERIC (PROQUEST)
Date Searched: 8/4/2016
Limits applied after March 2002, English only, exclude dissertations/theses
S15 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR 4 OR 5 OR 6 OR 7 OR 8 OR 9 OR 10 OR 11 OR 12 OR 13 OR 14
S14 “lengthening the school year”
S13 “lengthen the school year”
S12 “lengthened school year”
S11 “longer school year”
S10 “extended school year”
S9 “extended school calendar”
S8 “year round education” OR “year-round education”
S7 “modified school calendar”
S6 “alternative calendar” OR “alternative calendars” OR “alternative school calendar” OR “alternative school calendars”
S5 “year round school”
S4 “twelve month calendar”
S3 “extended school year”
S2 SUBJECT.exact(“Year Round Schools”)
S1 “12 month school” OR “twelve month school”
Database: PsycINFO (OVID)
Date Searched: 8/4/2016
- (alternative calendar or modified school calendar or year-round school).mp.
- (year-round education or 12 month school or twelve month school or extended school calendar*).mp.
- (longer school year or extended school year or lengthened school year or lengthen the school year).mp.
- (lengthening the school year or alternative school calendar).mp.
- (lengthening school year or lengthen* the school year or alternative school calendar*).mp.
- (200204* or 200205* or 200206* or 200207* or 200208* or 200209* or 20021*).up.
- (2003* or 2004* or 2005* or 2006* or 2007* or 2008* or 2009* or 2010* or 2011* or 2012* or 2013* or 2014* or 2015* or 2016*).up.
- 6 or 7
- 8 and 9
Cooper H, Nye B, Charlton K. The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: a narrative and meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research 1996;66(3):227-68.
Graves J. The academic impact of multi-track year-round school calendars: a response to school overcrowding. J Urban Econ 2010;67:378-91.
Wu AD, Stone JE. Does year round schooling affect the outcome and growth of California’s API scores? J Educ Res & Policy Studies 2010;10(1):79-97.
Considerations for Implementation
- Before implementing year-round schooling, schools and school district should consider the following issues.
- Parental employment and how it will be affected
- Child care availability
- School administration challenges
- Use of intersessions
- Year-round schooling can make it more difficult for families to schedule extra-curricular activities and vacations.
- Multi-track calendars
- Potential benefits of year-round use of the school building include decreases in school vandalism and cost savings or cost delays for the school district.
- Coordinating school administration and scheduling is complex.
- It can be difficult to schedule standardized testing and after-school activities.
- Students may be separated from their friends who are in different tracks.
- Steps must be taken to assure students are equitably distributed among all tracks. Some of the included studies reported that lower income and minority students were more often assigned to poorly supported tracks.