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Year round school already tested in Grand Rapids

7:46 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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AP graphic of school classroom desks

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Governor Rick Snyder wants some districts to consider school all year round.

In his State of the State address Thursday, Snyder cited some studies which suggest students can lose one or two grades' worth of knowledge by their freshman year in high school if they're not attending school on a year round basis.

Gov. Snyder says underperforming schools may benefit from not having a normal summer break. It's an idea that's already been tested here in West Michigan.

"Michigan is one of those few states that do not base the start of school on what's in the best academic interest of the children. Instead, it's based on the tourism industry," said John Helmholdt of Grand Rapids Public School. He says that's why the GRPS decided to try five year round schools. "We do recognize there's a need to address summer learning loss, that children, especially with high needs, are more susceptible to summer learning loss."

The pilot program was put in place in 2012 and Campus Elementary was one of the test schools. But principal Bernard Colton says results have not been what they had hoped for. "Poor attendance at beginning of the year, poor attendance at end of year. 50% of students showed at beginning, then we lost 50% at the end." Colton says that wasn't the only issue. "The test scores did not improve with the longer school year."

The year round school calendar did not work for Grand Rapids Public Schools and the program was canceled after one year.

The year round schedule works very well in other states. Students are still in school the same amount of days, but shorter breaks are scattered throughout the year.

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