Impact to Students
There is no measurable data that shows a direct relationship between early school start dates and student achievement. So how did we get here?
According to leadership in the legislature, Districts of Innovation (DOI) were intended to encourage broad, comprehensive innovations by independent school districts seeking to improve their student's outcomes and academic performances. School start date flexibility was allowed through DOI, however, this specific aspect of the program has not proven to improve innovation in a school district and it's outcomes related to academic performance are unable to be measured. A+ Texas is supportive of improving innovation in schools, however, academic performance is not improved by sporadic school start dates.
"The Summer Slide"
Research surrounding the so-called "Summer Slide" has been ongoing for many years. Many advocates for shorter summers and year round school say that students lose much of what they learn when they are away from the classroom during the summer. Studies have questioned the validity of this notion.
Overall, the research shows that there is at least as much academic gain during the summer vacation as there is loss. Most studies show either no significant change or an increase in cognitive abilities over the summer.
Students who start school later have greater access to summer camps, programs, and other learning opportunities that provide students the ability to learn new skills and advance their cognitive abilities and critical thinking in ways different than a traditional school. We believe these are more innovative ways to learn rather than simply starting school earlier in the month of August.
Longer Summers = Increased Green Time
Many recent studies have shown that increased time enjoying green spaces is beneficial for cognitive abilities. The amount of outdoor time is limited when schools begin their semesters earlier. Exposure to nature has been linked to lower stress levels and mental health, but new studies find it is also associated with higher scores on standardized tests.