What's different about year-round schools is that the days are arranged differently. Instead of the traditional nine months of school and long summer vacation, the students have several short vacations all through the year.
A few year-round schools have all their students on the same schedule. However, in most year-round schools, the students are divided into different instructional and vacation tracks. These tracks are arranged so that there is always one group of students on vacation.
The major benefit of year-round education is that it facilitates continuous learning as the students are not ever out of school for a long period of time. As a result, the students forget less over the shorter breaks, and teachers spend less time reviewing pre-vacation material. Another real benefit of year-round education is that schools can offer an extra session of remedial and enrichment classes to some of the students between sessions.
Most school districts choose year-round schooling as a cost-cutting measure. For example, with one group of students always on vacation, a school that was built for 750 students can serve as many as 1,000. This lets school districts with little or no money for building new schools handle a growing student population and save millions of dollars in construction costs. Furthermore, although the cost of operating a year-round program is more expensive, there is a reduction in per-pupil costs.
As far as achievement goes, the results are mixed and inconclusive. However, students in year-round schools that have everyone on the same track have shown improved achievement scores over those in traditional schools.
Overall, students, parents, and teachers generally have positive attitudes toward year-round schooling over time. Disadvantages include the inconvenience to families with children who are in both traditional and year-round schools and the complications of child care and vacation plans.