4-Day School Weeks Gaining in Popularity in U.S.
Four-day school weeks may help districts recruit and retain teachers but could also result in more juvenile crime.
More school districts across the nation are adopting, trying out, or at least considering the adoption of four-day school weeks, including districts in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas. The day that is normally taken off is Friday.
Although the cost savings of four-day weeks is pretty small (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures [NCSL], average savings range from .04% to 2.5%, with the maximum cost savings of 5.43%), anecdotal evidence indicates student attendance improves. Additionally, parents and teachers can more easily schedule doctor’s appointments and other commitments on Fridays rather than on school days.
Proponents also say that four-day school weeks help districts recruit and retain teachers, which is a significant consideration with the nation’s current labor and teacher shortage.
That’s the reason why many school districts in Texas have adopted the shortened week, reports KXAN. Nearly 60 school districts across the state have made the switch, and another seven offer a hybrid schedule, with four-day weeks for part of the year.
Crosby ISD has just approved the move to four-day instructional weeks starting next year, reports WIFR. In that district’s case, classes won’t be held on Fridays, and teachers and staff will work one Friday per month for staff development. About 20 or 25 minutes per day will be added to school days to make up for the Friday’s that are off.
However, Mesquite ISD is holding off on making the switch, waiting for direction from the Texas Legislature, reports Fox4News.
The move to four-day weeks is most popular in rural areas, where districts can save on utilities and cut the miles put on their school buses. About 90% of districts that have adopted the four-day week are in rural areas. The total number of districts adopting the four-day schedule has increased more than 30%, from 650 in 2020 to 850 now, reports EdSource.org.
The trend, however, is not taking hold in California, which requires schools to hold classes five days a week or else have their funding reduced. The legislature has given some exemptions to a few districts in remote areas of the state. That being said, some of the districts that adopted the four-day week switched back to the five-day-week schedule, while others never switched to the four-day-week strategy.
North College Hill City Schools District, which is a small district outside of Cincinnati, will be the first in Ohio to adopt a four-day school week.
In March, the board of education voted unanimously to adopt the shortened week, reports USA TODAY. The move is being made to prevent teacher burnout and support teachers. The shortened school weeks will start on August 15. Students will attend in-person classes Tuesday through Friday and have self-directed schoolwork on Mondays. Teachers will be on campus on Mondays to plan the rest of the week’s instruction, receive training, and review data.
Opponents of the four-day school week say that longer school days are harder for students, especially younger ones. Students who struggle with food insecurity might also not have access to sufficient meals on the day off, and access to after-school activities could be affected on the days when school is not in session. Additionally, families that can’t find affordable childcare could struggle with the shortened school week.
According to the NCSL, the effects of four-day school weeks on academic performance aren’t well known.
“…One study of students in Colorado showed a statistically significant improvement in math scores among students on a four-day schedule, while a similar study found no significant differences in student performance,” says the conference.
A report done by Oregon State University “showed a temporary decline in academic performance among students who switched to a four-day schedule, particularly among minority, low-income, and special needs students. Four years after the transition, student performance in four-day schools was not significantly different from that of five-day schools.”
The impact on juvenile crime, however, appears to be significant. One study in Colorado found that switching all students in a county from a five-day week to a four-day week increases juvenile arrests for property crimes, in particular larceny, by about 73%. Interestingly, larceny and property crimes increased on all days of the week and weren’t driven by crime shifting from one day to another, such as Wednesday to Friday.
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