In Michigan, by state law, the day after Labor Day is Back-To-School Day.
But in some 30 districts and charter schools in Michigan, kids have already been going to school because these districts and schools are experimenting with year-round school.
It's a concept getting much attention with the realization that our traditional school schedule causes most kids to forget some of the reading and math skills over the long summer break. That forces teachers to spend the first month or more re-teaching the previous year's material.
What does year-round school look like and is there a demand for it?
For the answer, we turned to the Crosswell-Lexington Community Schools in rural Sanilac County, which is offering the option of a year-round schedule.
Superintendent Kevin Miller decided to offer the year-round schedule because teachers are spending too much time reteaching content from the previous year to students.
“A survey was done with 5,000 teachers. Of those 5,000 teachers, 80% of them said ‘I spend 3-4 weeks in the fall reteaching what was lost over the summer from the previous year.’ That’s fine, I get that,” said Miller. “What was scarier to me was that 50% of those 5,000 teachers spent 7-8 weeks in the fall, and that to me is criminal.”
The Crosswell-Lexington schools have the year-round schedule as a voluntary option. Students and teachers can choose whether or not to participate in it.
“In all, we had about 20 teachers step forward and volunteer. We didn’t use them all. . . . We ended up using about 15 teachers,” Miller said.
Miller expects that test scores will improve thanks to this new calendar, especially MEAP scores. He believes that year-round schools could work in other communities as well, although he recommends keeping the program optional.
“I can see the day where some, most, or all kids are on a year-round format,” said Miller. “Or I can see a day sooner that maybe it’s half and half, that you’re offering it for all, and that some take advantage of it.”
-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom
Listen to the full interview above.