Report: No evidence year-round Project LIFT schools work

Report: No evidence year-round Project LIFT schools work

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A review of four year-round schools in Charlotte has found no academic improvement as a result of the adjusted academic calendar.

The report, completed by Research For Action, reviewed schools participating in Project Leadership and Investment for Transformation (Project LIFT) which have continuous learning calendars (CLC's).

Students at Bruns Academy, Druid Hills Academy, Thomasboro Academy, and Walter G. Byers Academy go to school year-round with breaks known as "intercessions."  Educators say year-round schools will help boost academic achievement.

Research For Action reviewed test scores and came to the conclusion that "There is no clear evidence that CLC's are having an effect on academic outcomes."

Parents say despite that research, they still like having their children go to school year-round.

"I think it's great because it keeps them constantly learning." Project LIFT parent Ashley Beckwith said.

Other parents are not surprised there is still no return on investment for year-round schools. Project LIFT spends a little more than $2 million on CLC's. The year-round schools have been up and running for the past few years.

"If it ain't turned around now it's not going to," Project Lift parent Anthony Alexander said. "It's just more money you have to spend to keep them in longer and it's not helping."

Superintendent of Project Lift, Dr. Denise Watts, sent a statement about the findings.

"When Project L.I.F.T. began its mission to improve nine underperforming schools in the West Charlotte corridor," Watts said. "CMS and learning community leaders committed to make decisions based upon the best data available. Over the past four and a half years, we have seen no quantitative data showing the continuous learning calendar provides benefit to students yet. This does not mean failure. It is possible that given more time, data would show a more definitive effect."

Watts goes on to address whether the community is getting its money's worth. About five years ago, the community chipped in more than $55 million to invest in nine underperforming schools.

"Our research partners continually caution against generalizing the outcomes of this study. It is very important to note that the Research For Action findings support that our Continuous Learning schools are making progress. To see the results being made in our schools, I encourage anyone to go to one of our schools for a tour, or to consider getting involved as a volunteer to be the difference they seek in our schools."
Parents believe the year-round calendar is not what's keeping scores down.

"I think it's the administrators here not getting the job done." Project Lift parent Thomas Grier said.

Educators say the report does not mean year-round schools will go away, but they will continue to monitor the situation so outcomes can be different.

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