Manage your time carefully so that you can



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Write an informative essay describing the relationship between the amount of time a student spends in school with the amount of learning. Use information from the articles to support your points. Make sure to include information from both passages in your essay.
Manage your time carefully so that you can


Your written response should be in the form of a multi-paragraph essay.
Be sure to

  • Include a claim

  • Address counterclaims

  • Use evidence from both sources

  • Avoid overly relying on one source.


Passage One

School All Year Long?”
NEW YORK, New York (Achieve3000, January 13, 2013). By the time summer vacation is over, many kids have forgotten some of what they learned the previous school year. This phenomenon has been dubbed the "summer slide." Despite its name, this loss of learning isn't much fun for teachers, who must spend time reviewing past lessons each fall. In an effort to keep kids and teachers from losing ground over the summer, an increasing number of schools are holding classes all year long. Some people argue that these "year-round" schools are better for everyone. Others aren't so sure.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 14 percent of U.S. public schools are on year-round calendars. And that number is growing. Just like schools that follow a traditional calendar, year-round schools are in session for 180 days a year. The difference between the two types of calendars lies in how the vacations are distributed. Instead of taking a two-month summer vacation like schools on a traditional calendar, year-round schools take several two- to four-week breaks throughout the school year.
Year-round schools have many supporters, including parent Shannon Oelrich of Cambridge, Minnesota. Oelrich has embraced the concept wholeheartedly. She cites a multitude of benefits.
"The kids don't get as bored for the long break in the summer, and it's good to have a couple of breaks in the middle of the year," Oelrich said. "[The kids] are happier. And…the teachers don't waste so much time reviewing."
Education officials say that the year-round calendar can also help overcrowded districts save money. Many year-round schools place students on a "multi-track" system. In this system, some students are on break while others are in class. This allows schools to accommodate more students in the same space, saving districts from having to build new schools when enrollment climbs.
"We definitely use the year-round calendar to maximize space and address some capacity issues," said Mike Charbonneau, spokesperson for North Carolina's Wake County Public School System. Many public schools in Wake County, including about one-third of elementary schools, have implemented the year-round calendar. "We have had a rapidly growing school system for the last 10 years."
But not everyone supports the idea of year-round schools, which once seemed like a cure for everything from low test scores to overcrowding. Opponents of the system cite higher operating costs, extra transportation costs, and higher air-conditioning bills. Also, many parents miss the long summer break. They say that time provides important opportunities for family time, travel, and summer jobs that help teens earn money and build résumés.
Billee Bussard runs an organization called Summer Matters. The group advocates for the preservation of the traditional school calendar. "The year-round calendar limits the window of opportunity for parents to give their children learning experiences outside the school walls," Bussard said.
So far, researchers cannot say that one schedule is definitely more advantageous than the other. Some research has shown academic gains among students on year-round schedules. Other studies, however, have found that students on traditional schedules do better in school.
"[Overall], the results are not very significant," said Esther Fusco, a professor at Hofstra University in New York. "I have not seen any study that shows students greatly improve [on a year-round calendar]."
Justin Raber is president of a statewide parent-teacher association in West Virginia. He said that parents and schools must work together to determine what is best for their particular community.
"[The debate over school calendars] is a discussion that each individual community should have to ensure that the educational system is meeting the needs of their greatest asset—the children."

Passage Two

More School, Less Vacation?”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Achieve3000, October 21, 2009). Students beware: Summer vacation could be sharply curtailed. President Barack Obama says U.S. students spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe. The president is therefore advocating for schools to increase class time, stay open late, and extend the school year by shortening summer vacation.
"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas—not with [my daughters] Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours—but the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom," Obama said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan supported Obama's suggestion to extend class time. Duncan said that it makes sense—especially since many students in the 21st century have fewer demands on their schedule than did students of yesteryear. In the past, many students needed to take the summer to help out on their family farms.
"Our school calendar is based upon [a farm-based] economy, and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," said the education secretary.
According to Obama and Duncan, increased time in school will enable students in the U.S. to compete with students in other parts of the world. Students in some Asian countries, for example, spend up to 201 days in school. These students persistently perform better on math and science tests than do U.S. students, who spend 180 days in school.
"Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here," Duncan said. "I want to just level the playing field."
The education secretary did not address the fact that compared with students in Asian countries that outperform them in math and science, U.S. students actually spend more time in the classroom overall. Students in the U.S. spend 1,146 hours in the classroom per school year. Students in Taiwan attend class 1,050 hours per school year, and students in Hong Kong spend 1,013 hours in the classroom each year. Japan's students attend class 1,005 hours per year, and students in Singapore spend 903 hours in school each year.
Regardless, the argument for extending the school day is a valid one. The U.S. schools that have extended hours have the academic achievement to show for it. For example, eighth graders in the KIPP network of charter schools score above average on state tests. KIPP students attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (more than three hours longer than the typical school day.) They also go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks during the summer.
In Massachusetts, the Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative is having a positive effect on test scores. The majority of students involved with the initiative are performing better on state tests than their counterparts at regular public schools. Schools participating in the ELT initiative added two hours per day to their school year. This time is allotted for three things: core academics, additional time for teachers, and enrichment activities for students.
Extended school days and years may indeed be the way of the future. Some regular public schools in the U.S. are already changing their schedules by remaining open year-round. Others are increasing class time, though the additional time is optional and not usually part of the regular school day.
Students do not always embrace the change initially. However, many eventually concede that the new approach is both practical and effective. Nakany Camara is a fifth grader at Brookhaven Elementary School in Maryland. Nakany credits the four-week summer program that was added to her school's schedule for boosting her grades from two Cs to the honor roll. She said she also enjoys the opportunity the program provides her to visit with friends during the summer.
Domonique Toombs is a sixth grader at Clarence R. Edwards Middle School in Massachusetts. Domonique was disheartened when she first learned of her school's decision to add three hours to each school day.
"I was like, 'Wow, are you serious?'" Domonique said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school." But now, three years later, Domonique recognizes that it has been time well spent. "I've learned a lot," she said.

Write an informative essay describing the relationship between the amount of time a student spends in school with the amount of learning. Use information from the articles to support your points. Make sure to include information from both passages in your essay.


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