How Many Weeks in a School Year?

There has been little variance in the amount of weeks in a school year during my past twenty (20) years in education.  In California, there are one-hundred-eighty (180) school days in a school year.  When you divide this number by 5 days in a week, the total number of weeks is thirty-six (36). There were a few tough budget years in the mix where a district could reduce the amount of days via board action to below one-hundred-eighty (180).  Districts were subsequently required to bring the amount of days back up in short order.  Even during times of financial difficulty, districts were still required to have a one-hundred-seventy-five (175) day school year or thirty-five (35) weeks of instruction in California. The data is similar across the country. 

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How many weeks is the school year?

On average (mean) in the United States, the total amount of weeks of instruction in a school year is 35.65. Additionally, the median amount of weeks required is 36 and the most common amount of weeks required (mode) is 36.  

Only forty 40 states were used to calculate the mean, median, and mode.  The reason for this is because ten (10) states do not have a minimum amount of days, weeks, and/or hours. 

How many weeks is the school year by state?

StateMinimum Required Weeks of School
Alabama (AL) 36
Alaska (AK)36
Arizona (AZ)36
Arkansas (AR)35.6
California (CA)36
Colorado (CO)32
Connecticut (CT)36
Delaware (DE)N/A – Required hours only
Florida (FL)36
Georgia (GA)36
Hawaii (HI)36
Idaho (ID)N/A – No required days and no required hours
Illinois (IL)36
Indiana (IN)36
Iowa (IA)36
Kansas (KS)36.2 (K-11th)
Kentucky (KY)34
Louisiana (LA)35.4
Maine (ME)35
Maryland (MD)36
Massachusetts (MA)36
Michigan (MI)36
Minnesota (MN)33
Mississippi (MS)36
Missouri (MO)34.8 (5-day week)
Montana (MT)N/A – Required hours only
Nebraska (NE)N/A – Required hours only
Nevada (NV)36
New Hampshire (NH)36
New Jersey (NJ)36
New Mexico (NM)N/A – Required hours only
New York (NY)36
North Carolina (NC)37
North Dakota (ND)35
Ohio (OH)N/A – No required days and no required hours
Oklahoma (OK)36
Oregon (OR)N/A – Required hours only
Pennsylvania (PA)36
Rhode Island (RI)36
South Carolina (SC)36
South Dakota (SD)N/A – No required days and no required hours
Tennessee (TN)36
Texas (TX)N/A – Required hours only
Utah (UT)36
Vermont (VT)35
Virginia (VA)36
Washington (WA)36
West Virginia (WV)36
Wisconsin (WI)N/A – Required hours only
Wyoming (WY)35
Average (mean)35.65
Median (middle when sorted)36
Mode (most common)36

The amount of weeks in a school year does not tell the whole story.

These 36 weeks are not consecutive since there are weeks of breaks, 3-day weekends, and other days when school is not in session.  If school started after Labor Day, thirty-six (36) weeks later with no days off is the second week of May. The last day of school is approximately forty-two weeks after the first day of school.  There are typically six (6) weeks of breaks during a typical school year including Thanksgiving, Christmas (winter), Easter (spring), Presidents, Veterans, etc… 

School Days in Different Countries

Schools in other countries vary in duration and schedules. Let’s review a few:

  
China245 days/35 weeks; Students typically start in September and end in July
Italy200 days/~28 weeks; Students begin in mid-September and end in mid-June
India~280-294 days/~40-42 weeks; Students typically start in May or June and end in March
England190 days/~27 weeks; Students attend from September to July
South Africa200 days/~28 weeks; Students attend from January to December in four terms

Common U.S. School Holidays

U.S. schools share numerous holidays and vacation days, ranging from Spring Break to Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Spring Break

Most schools take a whole week (five days) off in March to celebrate Spring Break. It’s typically the last complete break for students and teachers before summer vacation.

Fall Break

Similar to Spring Break, some schools take off for a whole week in the fall – either in October or the week of Thanksgiving.

Winter Break

What some may consider one of their favorite vacations, Winter Break typically gives students the last two weeks of December off to celebrate the holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve/Day. This break ends the first semester, aka the first two quarters.

Labor Day

This holiday is the first significant day off for students and teachers in the school year. It falls on the first Monday in September. Some schools may even start their first day after this holiday to mark the end of summer vacation.

Thanksgiving/Thanksgiving Break

Students and teachers may have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving week to spend time with friends and family. Some schools, colleges and universities designate Thanksgiving week as their official fall break.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This holiday, usually every third Monday in January, commemorates the life and legacy of minister and Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr. Some colleges and universities mark this day as the last day of winter break, and the following Tuesday is the first day of the spring semester.

President’s Day

Another big holiday is President’s Day, the third Monday in February that commemorates all of the nation’s presidents, from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to Joe Biden.

Snow Days

All school districts in states that receive snow deliberate internally to determine whether schools should open or remain closed for these day(s). The top five states with average snowfall between 89 and 64 inches are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Colorado and Alaska.

Schools usually cancel if areas receive six inches to a foot or more of snow. Some schools don’t use snow days, enabling parents, teachers and staff to use their discretion based on road conditions.

Teacher Workdays

Some districts and states, like Colorado, offer teacher workdays for teachers to get in final grades for a quarter or semester. To truly concentrate, schools implement teacher workdays so students can stay home while teachers go and distribute final grades for report cards.

Making the Most of Your Classroom

One hundred and eighty days seems like a long time. But when you throw in holidays, breaks, snow days, extracurricular activities and standardized testing days, that time diminishes. There are some teaching tactics to implement in the classroom to ensure you make the most of your time. These tools also help your students better absorb topics.

Lesson Plans

Think of lesson plans as recipes for topics and concepts you want students to grasp and remember for their everyday lives. The more structured your lesson plan, the better the learning experience. Keep in mind that some lessons may be cut short, or you may need to spend an extra few days or weeks to verify how well the students comprehend the topic.

Some helpful lesson planning tips from the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning & Teaching include:

  • Outlining Learning Objectives
  • Developing a Solid Introduction
  • Planning Relevant Learning Activities

Cultural Diversity

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) acknowledges World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Develop on May 21 to exhibit the world’s cultures and push positive intercultural dialogue for peace and positive growth.

Since May is typically toward the end of the year, you can push for students to learn about and celebrate this day in the classroom either for one day or one week. You can teach students about other cultures from clothing and food to music and traditions. If you have a diverse classroom, you could ask students to make their culture’s favorite dish with their parents and bring it to the classroom to share.

Learning about and respecting other cultures and heritages are essential people skills. Introducing cultures to students early allows them to become aware and mindful of others.

Field Trips

If permitted, taking at least one or two field trips to local museums, performance centers and other places that tie in with your lesson plans could stimulate your students in a different environment. Field trips can also help students foster a love of learning and discovery outside of school.

Hands-on Learning

Some people learn better through theory, and some learn better visually or with hands-on training. To appeal to different learning styles, you could implement hands-on approaches for several subjects. For example, if you’re learning math with addition and subtraction, you could give small number blocks for students to practice adding and subtracting.

If you teach a chemistry class in high school, for example, you could allow them to perform lab experiments with beakers, test tubes and microscopes to mix certain chemicals and materials. Or, you could perform complex experiments in front of the students while they take notes to avoid fires or other hazards.

Hands-on exercises or live demonstrations allow students to fully engage in whatever they’re learning and can increase their retention.

Guest Speakers

Bringing in guest speakers that relate to your lessons can also give your students an enriching learning experience. For example, if you’re talking about careers, you could ask a few friends who work in different fields to speak with your students about what they do.

Also, if you’re a high school or college art teacher who knows different artists or art teachers, you could ask them to visit your classroom to give a guest lecture. Guest speakers provide a door for students to get a better sense of what they want for their career paths.

Technology

Lastly, implementing technology in the classroom provides interaction and knowledge of what it actually does. Schools could offer tablets and mini laptops for students to learn typing, web page navigation and more. If your classroom has smartboards, you can display visual aids, videos and more. You can also use Kahoot! to create polls, quizzes and other learning games.

It’s also important to teach your students not to heavily rely on technology. Smartphone and social media addiction are real. According to Pew Research, 28% of adults ages 18 to 29 use smartphones instead of broadband networks at home in 2021. Don’t overuse technology.

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