As it is, American kids spend the least amount of days in school compared to other nations. On average, Americans schools only allocate 180 days to education. It is a common belief, this is a sufficient amount of learning time for students that are at or above grade-level. It is, however, problematic for youth that are academically at-risk and below grade level. Unfortunately, there is a significantly higher population of academically challenged children in our public school system.
Many of these kids have huge gaps in literacy and numeracy skills and are two or more grade levels behind. As a result, teachers and school districts devote most of their 180 days to reteaching literacy and numeracy basic skills. If a child is three or more grade levels behind, it is statistically harder for she or he to catch up and reach proficiency in a 180 days.
Some of these children eventually do succeed, but a number of them give up. These young people become frustrated with learning and a high percentage of them opt to drop out of school. It is estimated that out of 3.8 million students that start high school in our public school system, a quarter of them will not earn a diploma.
Our “180 days” mandate” comes at a cost to our society. It has engineered an unskilled workforce. Many of these youths are not eligible for 90 percent of entry-level jobs. Our thinking that all students can learn in 180 days what the rest of the world takes 220 to 240 days to learn is naive and calamitous to our future.