Principals' perceptions about the transition from traditional to year round education in North Carolina

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Virginia Tech

This study described perceptions of principals who have made the transition from a traditional to a year-round educational program in North Carolina. Data was collected which dealt with school operations in a YRE setting. A questionnaire designed to answer seven research questions was used in this study.

Part I of the questionnaire gathered school demographic data from the principals. Part II was a fixed response section of the instrument using a Likert scale, and part III contained open-ended questions designed to give participants in the study an opportunity to elaborate on their experiences as their schools made the transition from a traditional to a YRE setting. The questionnaire focused on six domains of school operations: school calendar, daily schedules, facilities, transportation, funding, and personnel.

This study addressed six domains. Giving students and parents an opportunity for input on the school calendar and offering enrichment classes were positive benefits of YRE programs. In the area of daily schedules, according to the principals it is difficult to schedule meetings when one track is out of school. Several principals mentioned that it was difficult to schedule itinerant teachers shared with dual calendars. In the area of school facilities, it is necessary to schedule maintenance workers on a more flexible schedule since students are in school more days during the year. Principals believe facility use has not lessened since implementation. The success of YRE has been worth the added transportation costs. Most principals agreed that YRE requires additional funding. In the area of personnel, affording teachers opportunities for taking needed time off was rated very positively by principals in a YRE setting. Principals also felt that teachers are more satisfied teaching in a YRE program.

It is apparent that principals have an increase in their workload as a result of operating a YRE calendar; the school-within-a-school requires much more time, according to the principals. They recommend that schools entering a YRE schedule use a Single-track pattern of grouping. Although several principals stated the school staff would need at least a year to adequately plan a YRE program, most recommended a two year period to allow the principal and school staff to gain the needed community and staff support for the program. Several principals stated that it was difficult for them to take personal time away from school during the planning and implementation stages. Several principals stated there was a need to have an assistant principal because the work load is greater in a YRE school.