Research finds that improved outcomes in instruction and student learning were the primary goals for extending the school calendar
A new study from the LMU Center for Catholic Education highlights the experiences of three elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as they switch from a 180-day school year to a 200-day school year. Numerous educational leaders support extending the school year, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He believes the school days and school year are both too short, and sees a longer school year with a more in-depth curriculum as the key to making our nation’s students more competitive.
Authored by Anthony Sabatino, Karie Huchting and Franca Dell’Olio, faculty in the LMU School of Education, the qualitative study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Elementary Schools, examined the reasons behind the extension of the school year, the process used and the experience of faculty members and parents at the three schools.
Researchers found that the primary motivation for extending the calendar was to improve instruction and student learning. Other desired outcomes were to:
• gain a competitive advantage and increase Catholic school enrollment
• add instructional time to enrich and enhance the curriculum
• reduce the amount of “summer academic loss”
• provide summer child care.
Researchers found that faculty at the schools believed the longer instruction time would benefit students. A common concern was teacher fatigue, but many believed teachers would support the idea of the change in the name of helping students. The extension of faculty contracts by 10 percent was also attractive. Parents also responded positively to the change, believing that the extended calendar would add value to their children’s education and give the L.A. Archdiocese schools a competitive advantage that could increase enrollment.
While participants at all three schools were fearful of losing parents who might oppose an extended school year, research said the policy change did not result in any decreases in enrollment. The findings of this pilot study will lay the foundation for an ongoing longitudinal study that will examine school leadership, curriculum and assessment, mindful of the local context in each school, as it affects student learning and achievement.
For more, click here to read the center’s policy brief on the L.A. Archdiocese’s 200-day calendar initiative (PDF).