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Exploring 4-Day School Weeks: Why Some Districts Are Making the Switch

Exploring 4-Day School Weeks: Why Some Districts Are Making the Switch

Four-day school weeks have become a growing trend in districts across the United States. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, approximately 560 districts across 25 states currently have a four-day school week. So, why are some districts transitioning to this schedule? We’ll be discussing some of the pros and cons of having a four-day school week and sharing some feedback from districts that have made the switch. Let’s dive in!

Source: Heyward, Georgia. What Do We Actually Know about the Four-Day School Week? Seattle: Center on Reinventing Public Education, 2018.

Pros

It may save money

Financials are a big concern for every district. We are seeing teachers go on strike for not being paid enough and resources being taken away from schools because of the lack of money available. With a shorter week, schools could save about 20 percent of their usual spending.

Student attendance and performance may increase

Four-day weeks give students one less day to miss and free up a day for them to get in any necessary outside-of-school appointments.  A Vittana article mentions that Melstone School District in Montana saw a 20 percent increase in attendance over the course of a two-year period after changing to a four-day week. In addition to gains in attendance, other districts have reported that their test scores improved after making the shift.

When teachers are given more time, recruiting is easier

Teachers can do a lot with a free day. Whether they take a three-day weekend and rest or use that day as preparation time for the next week, they will definitely appreciate the extra time. Many districts also encourage this day to be used for professional development. In a PBS NewsHour video, for the weekly segment, “Making the Grade,” Laura Brown reveals that a big reason she moved to Cobre Consolidated School District is because of the four-day week. She feels that the extra day off made her teaching even better because she had more time to make her lesson plans more in-depth.

Cons

Longer days

Everyone knows that days can drag on and that focusing for so many hours of the day can be difficult, especially for young students. With a four-day week, students need to go to school for longer times during the day to make up for extra time off. The longer days could affect students’ attention spans and make them tired and unmotivated to get their work done.

Additional day of child daycare

For parents who have a full-time job, a transition to a four-day week could be an extra stressor. A Usable Knowledge article from the Harvard Graduate School of Education mentions that this can be tough, especially for lower-income parents who may not have means to pay for childcare on that day their children no longer have class.

Real Districts That Made the Switch

Olfen Independent School District in Texas switched to the four-day week in August 2018. According to KHOU 11 News, Superintendent Gabriel Zamora recognized that this won’t work for everyone, but it is what is best for their community. Although Olfen ISD made the switch, the district requires that any struggling students attend class on Friday for individual tutoring. Additionally, if any parents have issues with childcare, Olfen ISD provides the option for their students to attend on Friday as well. Teachers working for Olfen ISD do still work full-time schedules, but one  4th grade teacher shared that much of the work she used to do on weekends now gets done with the extra time she has on Fridays.

27J Schools in Colorado also made the switch to a four-day week. NEA Today reports that this switch was significant because it’s a suburban district of Denver. The district expects to save over $1 million every year because of it. President of the Brighton Education Association, Kathey Ruybal mentions that, after seeing so many teachers come and go, she is hopeful that this switch will attract more teachers to the district.

According to the article, “In District 27J, the school day for middle and high schoolers now begins at 8:30 and ends at 4:32. Whereas most districts opt for Friday, the no-school day in 27J falls on a Monday.”

When 27J Schools first surveyed the idea of moving to a four-day week, the feedback was positive, and Ruybal says that the new schedule really treats teachers like professionals.

What Does This Mean for Your District?

Every district’s experience with a four-day week will be different, but in any case, we know that educators across the nation are just trying to do what’s best for their students and communities.

Is your district considering a four-day school week, or does it already have one? Have you thought about providing online learning opportunities for your students while they are at home? Share your story with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Alexis.Brakebill's picture

Alexis graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She started working as a Marketing Associate for Edmentum in March 2018 and aspires to provide educators and students with resources that will make a difference in their day-to-day lives.

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