Schools Add Learning Time with 200-Day School Years


Is the traditional 180-day school year long enough? While most students would answer that question with an emphatic “Yes!” many parents and education experts disagree. Adding more hours to the school day and adopting year-round school years have become the answer for many school districts hoping to improve their students’ learning and test scores. Now a middle ground is beginning to emerge: 200-day school years.

Balsz Elementary School District in New York recently adopted the 200-day school year, with school reopening on July 30th after a six-week break. Most of the kids attending schools in the district come from low-income families and arguably need more time at school to help make up for lost educational time over the summer. But is a longer school year the answer for all districts?

What are the benefits?

Keeping kids in school longer definitely has academic benefits. With a shorter summer break, they have less time in between grade levels to forget what they learned over the previous school year. Longer school years may also allow for enrichment programs, such as art and music, to be reinstated in schools where they have been cut in favor of focus on academic subjects and test preparation.

“I love it because it is more education for them,” said Sheena Padia, a mother whose children attend an elementary school in the Balsz district (NYT).

What are the drawbacks?

While more time in the classroom is undeniably good for students, it also presents some drawbacks. A shortened summer break limits students’ ability to participate in summer sports programs, camps, and family vacations. It gives them less time to recharge between school years. And it keeps them inside and sedentary for an entire extra month of the year. Unsurprisingly, teachers’ unions also protest the institution of longer school years, fearing that teachers will not be adequately compensated for the longer hours they will work.

Proceed with caution

Longer school years could definitely benefit students, but only if the additional curriculum is well-planned and truly takes advantage of the extra time.

Kathleen Puryear, a veteran teacher, said, “Quantity is great, if you have the quality to back it up” (NYT).

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

we could actually make this work. add more hands on stuff. let kids go outside and explore things that way too. have better more dedicated educators, and fun time scheduled EVERY day. learning can be so much fun, if it's dressed up to be

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.4 years ago

Three months summer holiday? That would be wonderful. Schools here break up about 22nd July and go back the first week of September.
The kids do 195 days in school and teachers do 5 more "in service training" days.(They also do marking, lesson planning, report writing etc during weekends and holidays.)

Lin Moy
Lin M4 years ago

Actually you could go 6 months and learn enough if there were better teachers. Also stop repeating subjects in other grades and do something newer. Kids need a decent lunch, not junk food. They need some social time at school to learn about others. We can not leave out gym or small breaks, morning and afternoon. Most are not interested in 1214, step it up to some thing they can relate to now. Smaller classes and time to ask ?'s would be good. If a child doesn't understand something but can't ask in class, the teacher is failing.

Patricia M.
Patricia M.4 years ago

Again cut-off words:

Returning to the old school year plan also ends high use of school ACs (something we, nor my kids, had in their schools & survived; our air circulation came from open windows that also had no screens & no child fell out a window ever)saving the high electric costs to run as well as energy...

Patricia M.
Patricia M.4 years ago

Oh my, just reread that comment I made, so again sorry for other typos but certain you can figure out corrections. However would like to continue where my comment was cut off:

As for school vacations ending earlier than mid to end of June, NO, no longer should we accommodate the crop planting or crop pickers harvesting time; too many other options are available for planting & harvesting than children being put to work in fields. Any parent who condones children pulled from school for such reasons needs to be face child abuse charges, in my opinion.

When I went to school & my children attended the school year ended in mid-June or end of June if we had snow days (which are permitted since travel to school may be curtailed by impassable roads; same may apply for areas with dirt roads made unwalkable to get to a school bus stop since school authorities do not see the need to have kids pcked up safely close to their homes and most time pick & drop their young charges off on busy car/truck traveled highways). We returned to school the first Monday after labor Day in September. Mind you, this was also during a era when more family farms were in existance, so the ruling now to accommodate crop planters/harvesters should be overruled since those kids in my day made school daily anyway without any dispensations. A summer vacation should be fully honored as 3 full months in a row, not retruning to school as now in early August & school year ending in early Ma

Ann B.
Ann B.4 years ago


Patricia M.
Patricia M.4 years ago

Sorry, mind faster than fingers typo. 1st sentence it is "Country Kids", not contry

Patricia M.
Patricia M.4 years ago

Dorothy N. as time passes it may be that even our future "contry kids" won't be living near forests or fields if land developers keep eradicating it while destroying natural habitats of wildlife who call country locales home. However, I must agree about kids haveing time to be kids & they cannot do this stuck with their noses in textbooks but running and playing as kids should do.

I am also against schools adding more days off within the school year for non-traditional holidays, but remain giving school holidays within the traditional holidays as Christmas thru New Year, Thanksgiving including day before and after so families can travel to reletives homes far from where they live, same goes for Easter with Good Friday being honored as well. However, other religious Holidays must be honored only by such of such Faiths with children recessed by their parents to celebrate as they would do, also, if a death in families for any religion. As for Election Days off school, NO, none at all & teachers should vote early by mail or after the school day lets out. Furthermore, Election Polls need to be set up in other locales than schools for no government has cartblanche to interfer in a child's learning.

As for school vacations ending earlier than mid to end of June, NO, no longer should we accommodate the crop planting or crop pickers harvesting time; too many other options are available for planring & harvesting than children being put to work in fields. Any pa

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.4 years ago

If they can't yet earn a starvation wage as janitorial helpers, stick 'em in school though an extra month of summer holidays, let them get used to their place in life early, so there will be no worries they'll forget their place later and want breaks at work, or a living wage.

I am SO glad that I have no children, and am not growing up today...

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.4 years ago

Kids need time to be kids - they'll never get this chance again.

On my summer holidays, I read voraciously, had riding lessons when little and a pony later - although of course now with reduced incomes and so much poverty for the 99%, together with the paving/building over of forest trails and open riding areas on the edges of cities like my own, and the loss of so much freedom for both children and adults, such things are no longer possible for most middle-class kids, even in smaller cities.

But they do need time to socialize among their peers, to do unstructured kid things which also teach them independence and decision-making skills - although nowadays, kids are to be so much more controlled that they never have a chance to make - or learn from - minor mistakes that might save larger ones later, perhaps on a life-long basis.

And city kids today won't likely have the option of nearby forests and fields to wander and play in near new developments, because now the developments have extended so far, and they'd never be allowed to do so anyway, without adult supervision - and what adult has time today, with so many working extra jobs to make ends meet - or the money to buy a new house on the edge of the city.

No, best to raise little robots aware from birth that their purpose in life is to become suitable to serve industry or starve...

No point in improving budget-starved schools or worrying about producing well-rounded people with critical thinking skills