How many school weeks are in a year?
Answering your question about how many school weeks there are in a calendar year is easy. 35 weeks. It varies from one country to another and from one state to the next in the United States. My best guess is 35 weeks per year.
The United States has 35 to 36 weeks per school year, which is approximately 175 to 180 days. The requirements vary by state, district, and grade level.
Because classes are held on a few days out of every week, the number of weeks that a school term covers may be different.
A school year in South Florida runs from August 19th through June 9th. It covers 43 of 52 weeks. Due to teacher planning days and holidays, however, 31 days and 4 weeks are closed. The school is open for 180 educational days, which is a total of 39 weeks.
Each state’s requirements vary based on the grade level and what grade they are at. The majority of states require at least 180 days of instruction per year spread over 40 weeks.
Public schools are required to meet a specific number of days made by the state. Private schools can set their own hours.
How many school days are there in a year?
The National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES) states that there are usually over 160 to 185 school days per year with an average of 175 to 180 days. This number varies by state and district.
For example, the school term that covered the South Florida school was 211 days. It ran from August 19th, 2020 through June 9th, 2021. The school closes on 31 days of those days leaving 180 instructional days.
Houston, Texas, however, has a school term that covers 40 weeks of the year. It is also open for 36 weeks. The school term begins on September 8th, 2020, and ends on June 11th, 2020. There are 199 weekdays. Houston’s school term is just 171 days long after accounting for 28 days off holidays and teacher planning.
There is no national standard. The states independently direct education.
It also depends on whether the University or school is in a quarter- or semester-time frame. A quarter year includes 33 weeks of education, including exams. A semester includes 28-30 weeks of University education. This includes exams, but not mid-semester breaks. The secondary school would have 26 to 28 weeks of education. This includes exams but not mid-semester or varied breaks.
A greater percentage of states require 180 days of instruction time. This divides into 36 weeks. The 36 weeks are divided into two semesters, each of 18 weeks. They then break down into four quarters known as the “initial 9 weeks”, “second 9 weeks,” and “third 9 weeks.” The end of the 9-week introductory period marks the halfway point of the fall semester. While the 9-weeks of the third semester mark the halfway point of the spring semester, the 9-week end is the halfway point of the spring semester.
Schools open in August or September and close in May or June. This gives students a three-month rest from school. Washington and many other states use the number of hours spent in school each year to determine if they are following state laws.
Most states let the school districts decide when school should start. Some states, such as Michigan, have specific rules regarding when schools can begin and stop. Michigan has a mandate that no school may start before Labor Day.
The number of instructional hours/days per school year is also dependent on the state. Alabama, for example, has 180 school days but only 1080 school hours. Michigan, on the other hand, has 180 school days and 1098 school hours. North Carolina averages 185 school days but averages only 1,025 instructional hours.
The hours of instruction also vary according to grade. Arizona grades 4 through 6 have 890 instructional hours per year, while grades 7-8 have 1000, and grades 9-12 have 720.
American students spend an average of 1000 hours per year in school. This equates to approximately 6 hours per day in school. Research shows that students who spend more time on tasks in school perform better.
How does America compare to other countries in education
The common perception among Americans is that schools in the United States spend less time teaching or learning than other countries, such as India and China. Some claims suggest that the US spends 25-30% less time in instruction than China. An analysis of China’s instruction times compared with the US seems to refute this claim. Data from the OECD as well as the World Data on Education was compared to show that students from India or China have less instruction time than students in the US.
It is not possible to compare the instruction times of different nations because different laws may not be clear about what instruction time means. However, you can get an idea of how instruction times compare by looking at the World Data on Education data, which uses the same standards for all countries.
Comparative studies of US school systems were made using instructional data from California New York, Florida Texas, Texas, Massachusetts, and Texas – five states that have significant portions of the US population enrolled.
The report compared India to the US and found that:
For students at elementary school, India offers 800 hours of instruction annually. In comparison, students in New York receive 900 hours, California students receive 840, Florida students receive 900, Florida students receive 900, and students in Texas receive around 1260. Massachusetts students receive 900 hours.
Middle school students in grades 6-8 had an average of 1000 hours of instruction from India and the United States. Texas had 1216 hours of instruction on average, while New York had 998 hours and Massachusetts had 990.
While students from India may be able to attend school for more days than those in the US, instructional days are shorter in India. This means that the hours after school tend to be fewer.
It is difficult to compare how much time American students spend at school with Chinese students’ school time. Because data on Chinese school systems isn’t as detailed as data on Indian school systems, it can be difficult to compare the two.
The part of the country where the student lives differ in the number of days they attend school. The OECD however reports that China’s average instruction week is 35 weeks. This is nearly the same length as the US.
It’s possible that Chinese students go to school more often than US students. This is because Chinese students go to school six days per week, whereas American students only attend school five days per week.
Students in China don’t get more instruction just because they attend school more often. The Center for Public Education found that Chinese primary school students in grades 1-5 receive approximately 900 hours of instruction each year. This is comparable to the schools in Texas, California, and New York.
Chinese students receive approximately 1000 hours of instruction per year for grades 6-8. This is similar to what you will find in the majority of US states.
Finland is the epicenter for quality education. Institutions around the globe are attracted to its teaching methods.
Finnish elementary school students spend on average 608 hours of instruction per year. This compares to the 900 hours of mandatory education in Texas, California, and Massachusetts.
Finland scores high in almost all categories of international educational assessment, despite spending the least time in the school of any of the other countries. Even Vermont, with 700 instructional hours, has more hours than Finland.
Three states in the US rank at the top of the list for instructional hours in middle school. New York requires 990 instructional hours for middle school students, while Texas has 1260 and Massachusetts has 990.
This compares to Finland which has an average of 777 hours. Finland continues to be a leader in educational achievement. According to the OECD data, the average middle school teacher has 886 hours per year.
The high school level has a significant increase in the amount of instruction time required, as compared to the elementary and middle school levels. The number of hours required for high school in most states is the same as that required for middle school in the United States. The number of hours required for high school in Finland increased to 856 hours.
Summary of data
These comparisons were done, but you need to remember that they are based upon the minimum amount of instruction time. It is possible that schools in certain states or countries may require additional instruction that could impact the number of hours students spend in that region.
There is another consideration: In countries like Japan, Korea, and India, tutoring and night schooling are common. This could have a significant impact on student attendance that is not evident in the analysis of instructional hours.
The data suggests that students should be able to focus on how well they are using their school time, rather than focusing on the need to provide additional instruction.
Using this information to your advantage
It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of school-aged children or a student or an educator, knowing how many weeks there are in a school calendar is crucial so that you can plan accordingly.
These are three tips to help you get the most out of the 40-weeks.
1. Make a plan.
Plan ahead for next week’s class, or even the next one. This is especially important if you’re a teacher or student. Use a lesson plan template as a teacher to help you teach instead of planning. Your lesson plans should be completed two months in advance.
Always be prepared for the next class as a student.
2. Utilize leverage technology
New technologies are not being approved by the education sector. It’s difficult to justify the purchase of educational software when there are budget cuts and inadequate pay. You can use technology to enhance your classroom experience.
3. Take control of your classroom
This one is for teachers. It becomes more difficult to focus students as attention shrink with the widespread use of smartphones. Limit distractions wherever possible. Consider taking their phone in the morning, and returning it in the afternoon. Or investing in classroom running software that limits students’ access to certain websites during school hours.
A school year has only 35 weeks. Optimize it as much as possible.