Benefits of Tulsa's year-round schools

Friday, June 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Summer vacations are in full swing. But for some Tulsa students, school is still in session.

Tulsa year-round schools don't start their abbreviated summer until next week. And some say the shorter breaks sprinkled throughout the year help year-round students retain more.

At first glance, it looks like a normal school day. Except for most traditional calendar students, summer started three weeks ago. At Tulsa's Kendall-Whittier, the learning continues with these homemade kaleidoscopes.

And some say these third-graders will remember more about trapezoids and pentagons, because they attend a year-round school. Judy Feary, Kendall-Whittier Principal: "And what we find when they come back at the first of August or end of July we have very little re-teaching to do we just pick up where we left off and move on."

Beth Schmidt, mother of 2 in year-round school: "You have three week breaks throughout the year and its just at the right time so they start back refreshed, renewed and ready to be back in the learning environment." Nationally, the debate continues over whether or not year-round programs actually increase learning.

But here in Tulsa, Feary says year-round programs are starting to show gains. She says her school's large Hispanic population benefits from more time in a bilingual environment. "And they go home and speak Spanish for three months so when they came back they would have no English again in the fall and we're seeing test scores to show improvement in that area." But those improvements may not be due to shorter, more frequent breaks, but to more school.

Kendall-Whittier teachers and parents agreed to have school when the rest of Tulsa Public Schools are in session. That means even during their three-week breaks year round schools have classes or inter-sessions. "More of them will come to intersession than ever would summer school. In intersession we average between 500 and 600 children.”

Kendall-Whittier is one of Tulsa Public School's ten year-round schools.