A Year-Round School Program: A Descriptive Study
Lundquist, Anne M.
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The problem: This descriptive qualitative study analyzed the year-round program at Irving Elementary School in Indianola, Iowa at the conclusion of its fourth year of operation. Stakeholders’ perspectives were ascertained to understand the issues that arose when it was offered in addition to a traditional calendar program and to provide insight to others interested in this alternative calendar program. Procedures: Thirty-eight semistructured interviews and 19 informal conversations with knowledgeable people associated with the program were conducted and analyzed along with documentation using qualitative research conclusions, implications, and recommendations were developed. Findings: Respondents’ perceptions revealed the following: (1) The intent for starting the year-round program came from a site-based effort designed to benefit learners. (2) Structural issues resulting from the initiative were minimal while educational and emotional issues led to conflict which was subsequently resolved. (3) Most year-round teachers and students perceived teaching and learning were enhanced. (4) Most felt the alternative calendar should continue to be offered as a voluntary elementary level program. The concept of year-round school in general was perceived by most to be of value. Conclusions: Physical plant and operations issues associated with the program were not as difficult as expected. While the concept made intuitive sense, emotional issues surrounding the change initially created some problems for the district. Over time, the year-round program was favorably accepted by most in the district and community. Implications: Implementation of year-round programs can be problematic in terms of structural and operational issues. It is important to be sensitive to the emotional needs of stakeholders and to scheduling issues involving specialist teachers when initiating year-round programs. Districts should consider alternative calendar options as a means of offering stakeholders choices in school programming. Recommendations: Additional research addressing student achievement may be prudent at this site as would a replication of this study in the future. The study of similar year-round programs in the state is recommended to acquire additional insight into alternative calendar programs.
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