Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Education Specialist


Alternative calendar schools are increasingly popular alternatives to the traditional nine-month school year and a three-month summer vacation. One purported advantage of a shorter summer vacation is the greater retention of academic material because there is less time to "forget" what was learned. While alternative calendar schools appear to be increasing in number, little research has been conducted to actually measure academic differences in these schools. The purpose of this research was to systematically compare the retention of academic skills of students in traditional and alternative calendar schools over the summer months. Three county-wide school districts participated in this study. One of the school districts used a variation of an alternative school calendar and the other two used a traditional calendar year. A total of 749 students in the first, third, and fifth grades of all the schools were administered Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) probes in mid-May, and the same probes were administered to the same students (now in second, fourth, and sixth grades) at the end of August. CBM probes were used to assess the content areas of mathematics, spelling, written expression, and reading. Retention of academic skills in the traditional and the alternative calendar schools depended upon students' grade level and academic subject. The most striking differences between traditional and alternative calendar schools were found at the first grade level.


Education | Psychology