sealPurdue News

July 1997

A longer academic year may boost student achievement

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A copy of the study "Effects of Extended-Year Schooling on the Achievement of Low Socioeconomic Students in Elementary School" is available from Julie Frazier at (765) 494-2947. The study was presented at the American Education Research Association's 1996 annual meeting during a poster session.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Less time off in the summer may translate into greater academic achievement for elementary-school students, says a Purdue University expert on year-round schooling.

"When we consider academic achievement, lower-achieving kids lose ground over summer vacation," says Julie Frazier, assistant professor of child development and family studies. "And even though good students improve over summer break, it's not known what additional strides in achievement they might make if they were in school."

Frazier followed the academic achievement of students in an extended-year school, which is a type of year-round school that shortens the summer break by adding mandatory instruction days to the academic calendar. She says there are roughly 100 schools doing so nationwide.

Beginning with kindergarten and following them through first grade, she compared the students' progress to students in a traditional program. Students in both groups had similar characteristics except for the difference in academic year, which was 30 days longer in the extended program.

She says the students in the extended-year school outpaced their counterparts in math and reading achievement by the beginning of first grade and maintained their "achievement gap" to the end of that year. Frazier has continued to follow the students and is currently analyzing their progress through third grade.

Concerns that keeping children in school longer would lead to boredom or negative feelings toward school did not materialize. "I saw no evidence of 'burnout' among the kids. In fact, the students in extended-year schools felt slightly more confident of their cognitive skills by summer's end than did the students in the traditional schools," she says.

Frazier is hoping to determine whether it's the additional instruction time or the shortened summer break that proves most beneficial in improving student achievement. "It is possible that improved achievement is more a function of a 'continuous learning schedule,' rather than more learning time," she says.

A continuous schedule also can be accomplished by rearranging the current 180-day school year to replace the long summer break with shorter breaks throughout the year, as is the case in most year-round school programs.

In a research project to begin this fall, Frazier will compare the academic achievement of socioeconomically disadvantaged children in a year-round calendar, extended-year calendar and traditional September-to-June school year.
CONTACT: Frazier, (765) 494-2947; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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