Most schools in St. Louis follow an agricultural calendar, with two 13-week semesters followed by 12 weeks of vacation during the summer months. This traditional school calendar was created for a previous era with significantly different economic and social priorities, but it no longer reflects the needs of most families today, nor does it set students up for success. Research shows that the achievement gap widens during the summer break. On average, students from low-income backgrounds lose two to three months of reading and math achievement, while students from middle and high-income backgrounds make gains in their development. Summer break is a highly inequitable time for youth, especially those not exposed to learning or extracurricular opportunities.
At Atlas, we aim to create an equitable learning environment that prepares all students for success. Our year-round model is broken into seven academic sessions. Each session consists of roughly five weeks of rigorous academic instruction followed by a two-week intersession break. During the two-week intersession breaks, student programming is available and provided by community partners such as Unleashing Potential, LitShop, COCA, Building Futures, Little Medical School, and Circus Harmony. This helps accommodate families’ work schedules and provides additional learning opportunities for kids.