ATLANTA — Most of the 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states now have at least some public schools on alternative calendars — either a year-round school year or a four-day school week, a new report by the Atlanta-based nonprofit organization shows.
"As state funds drop and more schools face overcrowding, many state legislatures have given public school systems more flexibility," Gale Gaines, SREB’s vice president, State Services, said. "One key area where we’re seeing changes is the scheduling of school calendars."
Nearly half of SREB states now allow local school districts to adopt calendars where students attend school for longer but fewer days, Focus on the Alternative School Calendar: Year-Round School Programs and Update on the Four-Day School Week reports. Just over 40 public schools in five of those states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma — reported using four-day school weeks in the 2009-2010 school year. Louisiana had the highest number of at 23.
Year-round schools are even more prevalent than four-day weeks in the SREB region — which runs from Texas to Delaware. An estimated 206 K-12 public schools in 12 SREB states reported using year-round programs in 2009-2010, with the highest number in North Carolina at 104.
Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi and South Carolina reported operating neither type of alternative calendar in public schools during the 2009-2010 school year.
Although there are some preliminary findings, hard evidence does not exist to suggest that rearranging instructional time either enhances or slows student achievement, the SREB report notes. The overall impact of alternative versus traditional calendars is undetermined.
For more information on school calendars in the SREB region, click on the program "Legislative Action" at www.sreb.org or contact SREB Communications.
SREB, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, advises state education leaders on ways to improve education. SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Each is represented by its governor and four gubernatorial appointees.