Many students enroll in summer school to get ahead of their subjects or to recover credits from failed classes. However, there is a difference of around 56 hours in course length between the Alhambra Educational Foundation’s (AEF) summer school program and the regular school year. Those 56 hours would be enough for teachers to explain the details of a subject and for students to make connections that are vital to learning. Summer school should be extended to give students the same amount of course hours as a regular school year class.
Five weeks is not enough time to completely learn and retain most of the information in a subject. A research project conducted by the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria studied time span and memory retention in secondary school students. The study concluded that a time interval of one hour between acquiring information and then being tested on that information produced a noticeable, negative effect on information recall. If students were unable to completely recall the information given after just one hour, then a student taking a five-week summer program can not possibly remember the information during the regular school year.
The short length of summer school forces teachers to only teach the bare minimum to their students. Sometimes, the details taught during the regular school year help connect ideas, events, or concepts. The American Psychological Association said that learning is the acquisition of knowledge through a prolonged process while memorization is simply the ability to instantly recall information, which is the major issue with summer school. Without a longer time frame for in-depth instruction, students are stuck with the poor substitute of memorization instead of actual learning.
Some may argue that a lengthened summer school program would mean less time for relaxing and vacationing. However, taking summer school to get ahead in a subject area should be viewed as a privilege and not an intrusion on one’s vacation time. In addition, the proper number of course hours should be granted to students taking summer school for credit recovery to allow them to properly relearn the subject. This trade-off must be kept in mind when students consider enrolling in summer school.
To solve the gap between the course length of summer school and a regular school year, summer school should be extended by two weeks. This would allow for better information recollection during the regular school year, the ability for summer school teachers to delve deeper into the subject, and for students taking summer school for credit recovery to have a fair redo of a class. By fixing the difference in course length, summer school can finally become an effective method for students to get ahead of or redo their classes; a vast improvement from AEF’s program that promotes memorization and cutting corners in education.