District Trendline

TR3 Trends: School Year Length and Summer Break

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Welcome to Tr3 Trends, NCTQ's monthly newsletter designed just for school district officials. Each month, we use data from NCTQ's Tr3 database to highlight the latest trends in school district policies and collective bargaining agreements nationwide. Tr3 contains teacher policies from 114 school districts, including the 50 largest districts, the largest district in each state, Broad Prize winners, Gates investment districts and members of the Council of the Great City Schools.

For this issue, we took a look at school year calendars to see just how long students were out of school this summer and how many days they'll spend in school this year. We compared this to the 2011-2012 school year calendars to determine which districts shortened or lengthened their school years. Here's what we found:

35% of Tr3 districts have a 2012-2013 school year of 180 days, making this the most common number of instructional days. In 45% of the districts, the year is shorter than 180 days and in 20%, it's longer.

Tulsa has the shortest year of all Tr3 districts, with 168 days in its 2012-2013 school year--that's 7 fewer school days than it had last year. (The district reports a school year of 175 days--but that includes 2 parent/teacher conference days and 5 bad weather days.)

The district with the longest school year for 2012-2013 is Baltimore County. It has 186 days for elementary students and 187 days for secondary students. That's about a 4-day increase over last year.

The average 2012-2013 school year length in Tr3 districts is 179 days.

Compared to last year, 25% of Tr3 districts have a longer school year, 22% have a shorter year, and in 53%, the school year remained the same.

Change in school year length: 2011-2012 to 2012-2013

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The Tr3 districts that lengthened their school year increased their number of school days by an average of 3, while those that shortened their year lost about 3 days.

Hardest hit were Louisiana Recovery School District, which went from 193 to 178 days (-15 days), Tulsa, which dropped from 175 to 168 days (-7 days), and Christina, Delaware, which went from 183 to 175 days (-8 days). With 193 days, Louisiana Recovery School District had the longest 2011-2012 school year; at 178 days this year it has a school year about average in length.

Meridian, Idaho gained the most days--11--boosting it from a 163-day school year to 174 days, though that still puts its school year length below the TR3 average. Chicago, in a much publicized move, jumped from 170 to 180 days, gaining 10 days, and Dallas gained 7 days, with its school year climbing from 176 to 183 days.

This year, Tr3 districts' students' summer breaks ranged from 5 to 14 weeks. Most (72%) had breaks that were 11 to 12 weeks long.

The districts with the shortest 2012 summer breaks are: Louisiana Recovery School District (5 weeks); Los Angeles and Indianapolis (8 weeks); and Oklahoma City, Broward County, Florida and Fresno (9 weeks). It's possible that with its loss of 15 days this school year, Louisiana Recovery School District will have a longer break during the summer of 2013.

Clocking in with the longest breaks, at about 14 weeks, are Meridian, Idaho; Anchorage; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. School children in Meridian are likely to have less time to skip rocks and jump rope next summer because of the 11 additional days added to the 2012-13 school year.

The average summer break across all Tr3 districts in 2012 was 79 days, or about 11 weeks.

Go to Tr3's custom report page to access all the data we use in Tr3 Trends and to compare teacher policies in 113 school districts nationwide. Send feedback to gmoored@nctq.org.