My father is an elementary principal at an impoverished school who, along with his amazing teachers, have really turned things around and increased learning. Recently, I talked to him about how he thought the education system in our state could improve. Here are some of his ideas. It's a long post, but I think it's a good plan and worth looking into. First, he said it's very difficult to hire good teachers. It's not that they don't exist, it's just that there are very few of them. Each year he hires 2-3 great teachers and 1-2 not so great teachers. On top of this, only 3 of his staff of 42 teachers are men. Very few men complete teaching degrees because the starting salary is $35,000. That's a great second income for families, but very difficult for a man who wants to be the breadwinner. If the salary was increased, more good college students (especially men) would consider a degree in elementary ed rather than business, medicine, etc. The only problem is this: It's hard to justify paying someone a starting salary over $40,000 for 8 months of work. This leads to his next suggestion. Where did the traditional "summer break" schedule originate? In our state it was a natural break because kids needed to help with the harvest on their family farms. As fewer families farm and require help from elementary aged kids, we just stuck with it because kids (and teachers) love a long summer break. But what if a year round schedule was more accepted? It's not a new idea, but the past version still left a teacher teaching only 8 months. What if 4 teachers taught 5 classes? Or 3 teachers taught 4 classes? the students still get breaks but the teachers are able to work more hours and justify a higher salary. Naturally, either fewer teachers would be needed (maintaining costs and reducing need for new school construction, but also cutting jobs) or class sizes could be made smaller and teacher-student interaction could be increased (costs increase but no jobs cut). This could be left to school districts or states to decide. Costs would increase for utilities and buses as schools would be open during the summer, but teacher salaries increase, quality of teachers increase, and you get more bang for your buck. His final point, and this is by far hi biggest, was the need to catch kids up once they've fallen behind. We evaluate students with a week of tests at the end of every year. It's not pleasant, but we can at least see how the kids are doing. But what happens with the kids who prove to be behind? We send them to summer school and expect them to learn the content in 2 months when they couldn't do it in 8. These tests should never shock a teacher. Most teachers know which students are behind, but when do they catch them up? With a year round schedule, every month or so when a class lets out for a few days, those struggling students can come in and get caught up on what they can't understand. This way, all of the students can be caught up before moving onto new principles. After all, should education build on itself? So, here's a proposed plan. 4 classes in a grade level use 3 classrooms. Each has a 6 week unit followed by a 2 week break. Classes alternate breaks so that at any given time there are 3 classes in session and one on break. Teachers teach 6 weeks of material and spend the last day of the cycle testing for comprehension. The students that are struggling can come back during some or all of their break and can get help understanding the material. Students receive a 4 week summer vacation while teachers spend some of their vacation with training and prep for the next school year. Additional Pros: Children's learning skills don't get rusty from a long break Parents are less likely to remove children from school for a non summer trip (Parents are more likely to schedule fall, winter, and spring trips during their child's break). Families who enjoy winter sports have opportunities for winter vacations. Children who get sick are able to catch up. I know it was long, but tell me what you think. Change is never pleasant and if I was a kid I would hate this plan. But it seems a little silly to let a kid dig himself a hole during the school year and try to dig himself out during the summer.