Hey there, fellow learners and parents! Have you ever wondered just how many weeks are packed into a school year? It’s a question that might seem simple, but the answer can vary depending on where you live and the specific school calendar in place.
In the United States, there are typically 35 to 36 weeks in a school year (this is based on a 5-day school week) and 175 to 180 days in a school year. However, the requirement varies by state, district, grade level, and type of school (eg. charter vs. public).
What Is A School Week?
A school year, also commonly referred to as an academic year, is a defined period of time during which educational institutions, such as schools, colleges, and universities, conduct their instructional and learning activities.
A school week usually spans five days, typically from Monday to Friday. However, variations can occur depending on regional or institutional policies, breaks, and holidays.
Actual Weeks In A School Year
Due to classes only being held a few days out of some weeks (and school closures), the actual number of weeks in a year that the school term covers is different.
For example, a district in South Florida has a 23/24 school year from Aug 21st to June 10th which covers 42 weeks out of the 52 weeks in a full year. However, 4 full weeks and a total of 31 days are closed due to holidays and teacher planning days.
In total, there are 36 weeks the schools are open for a total of 180 instruction days.
How Many School Days Are In A Year?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are typically about 160 to 185 school days in a year with an average of 175-180 days. Again, this number fluctuates per state, district, etc. Some schools also have the option to meet a minimum number of instructional hours per school term instead of days.
For hours required, the average is 1080 hours but ranges from 720 to 1,260 hours for high school grades. Lower grades, such as kindergarten have as little as 400 hours required. As adults, I bet we all wish we could go back to this before the 2080 work hours in a year we have to struggle through!
The following shows an example of two different states with varying school days, one is 172 days and the other is 180 days.
Using the South Florida school as an example again, the school term covered 211 weekdays from Aug. 21st, 2023 to June 10th, 2024, and 42 weekends. Of those days, the school is closed on 31 of them leaving 180 instructional days.
On the other hand, Houston, Texas has a school term that covers 41 weeks out of the year and is open for 37 of them. It starts on Aug. 28th, 2023, and ends on June 5th, 2024 for a total of 203 weekdays and 40 weekends. After accounting for 31 days of holidays and teacher planning, the school term in Houston is only 172 days of instructional time.
American School Holidays
In the United States, school holidays are another thing that varies greatly from school to school. However, these are some common holidays and breaks that are typically observed in most American schools:
- Summer Vacation: This is the longest school break in the United States and typically lasts from late May or early June to late August or early September. The exact start and end date varies.
- Christmas/ Winter Break: Winter break usually falls around the end of December and the beginning of January, typically coinciding with the Christmas and New Year holidays. It usually lasts 2 weeks.
- Spring Break: Spring break is typically a one-week vacation that falls anywhere from late February to mid-April. It’s a popular time for families to take vacations.
- Thanksgiving Break: Thanksgiving break usually occurs in late November, typically around the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Easter/Spring Holidays: Some schools have a short break around Easter or other spring holidays, typically lasting a day.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day: This national holiday is observed on the third Monday in January and results in a day off from school for students.
- Presidents’ Day: Presidents’ Day, celebrated on the third Monday in February, also results in a day off for students.
- Labor Day: The first Monday in September is Labor Day, marking the unofficial end of summer. It’s a federal holiday, and most schools are closed.
- Memorial Day: Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, marks the beginning of the summer season. It is a federal holiday, and schools are usually closed.
- Columbus Day: Some schools observe Columbus Day, which falls on the second Monday in October. However, not all schools observe this holiday, and it’s more commonly observed at the elementary and middle school levels.
- Veterans Day: Veterans Day, observed on November 11th, is a federal holiday. Some schools may be closed, while others may hold educational activities related to the holiday.
It’s important to remember that not every school district recognizes the same holidays. To get the most accurate information about a specific area or school, it’s best to consult the official school district calendar or contact the school directly.
Required School Days by State
This chart shows the school day requirements of different states based on data from the Education Commission of the States.
|State||Minimum Amount of Days In School Year|
|Delaware||Only has a requirement of hours|
|District of Columbia||180 days|
|Idaho||Varies by district|
|Kansas||Grades 1-11: 186 days|
Grade 12: 181 days
|Minnesota||Grades 1-11: 165 days|
|Missouri||Only has a requirement of hours|
|Montana||Varies by district|
|Nebraska||Only has a requirement of hours|
|New Hampshire||180 days|
|New Jersey||180 days|
|New Mexico||Only has a requirement of hours|
|New York||180 days|
|North Carolina||185 days|
|North Dakota||Only has a requirement of hours|
|Ohio||Varies by district|
|Oregon||Only has a requirement of hours|
|Rhode Island||180 days|
|South Carolina||180 days|
|South Dakota||Varies by district|
|Texas||Only has a requirement of hours|
|West Virginia||180 days|
|Wisconsin||Only has a requirement of hours|
In summation, there is an average of 35-36 weeks, 175-180 days, and about 9 months in a school year. Based on that average of 180 days, we spend 2,340 days in school in our lifetime of grades K-12; that’s 6.4 years!
Remember, the length of a school year can vary, but what truly matters is the quality of the educational experience and the opportunities for growth it provides.