An academic year can be defined as the length of time an academic institution is offering classes during a year. It might be easier to say that it is the time period between when schools open and close, but a lot of schools keep some of their services “open” during periods like summer, while the majority of services are not available. Another potential definition would be the period of days per year that students are attending classes.
Different schools may construct their years differently. Some have year round attendance with small breaks of a few weeks every few months. In these cases, the academic year might be defined as the beginning of the start of the year of school to the end of it. The new year would start almost immediately after the old year ends.
Other schools have a shorter years, defining the beginning of summer as the endpoint of the year. The new year then begins in later summer or fall, depending on how many days the school operates per year. As mentioned, however, some things could be occurring at the school or school district when most students are enjoying a break. Summer school might be considered as outside of the academic year.
Number of days of school in an academic year at public schools often are government mandated. The variation gets extensive in private schools, some charter schools, and in universities. Particularly in universities, some students might have a school year that is nine or ten months long, and other have years that consist of seven or eight months.
All schools also tend to split the year in varying ways. They could divide the year in two semesters, three trimesters, or four quarters, for instance. Sometimes, the year is broken into terms, and there might be summer and winter term. Breaks in the year are usually connected to how people are graded; especially in colleges, students may change classes with each new term or division. In high school or lower, however the year is split, it is usually marked by assessments of students at key points. End of year tends to correspond with a final grading period.
Another consideration in academic year is teacher pay. In year round schools, teachers might receive the same paycheck monthly, but in schools where a several month long break marks the end of the school year, teachers may not be paid during this time. Alternately, many schools give the option to teachers of paying them per month a 1/12 share of their year’s salary. This can prove helpful, since it means teachers can expect the same rate of pay during long breaks that they receive during the school year.