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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

4-day week appeals to teachers, students

Schools -- especially low-paying, rural schools -- are using a four-day week to recruit teachers, reports Elizabeth Heubeck in Education Week.

In 2020-21, New Mexico’s Socorro Consolidated Schools filled 11 teacher vacancies with candidates from the Philippines, she writes. This year, with the same number of vacancies but a four-day week, the district was able to fill all but two slots with Americans.

Colorado’s 27J school district, a 20,300-student system in the Denver area, moved to a four-day week in 2018. That's made it possible to hire teachers from neighboring districts that pay 20 percent more, says Superintendent Chris Fiedler.

School days are longer, but four-day students get less instruction. The district provides recreational programs on the fifth day that serve as day care.

Fiedler chose Monday as the "off" day, writes Heubeck.

His rationale: Teachers would be more likely to use Monday to plan for the week ahead. A Friday, he reasoned, could feel more like the start to a three-day weekend. Also, Fiedler’s district uses select Mondays for teachers to come to school for meetings with staff or parents, and professional development.

Parents were dubious at first, says Fiedler, but now praise the district for being "innovative and brave."

Students report less bullying and fighting when schools shift to a four-day week, writes Sarah D. Sparks, citing a newly published study.

More than 1,600 school districts, spread across nearly half of all states, have adopted the four-day school week.
. . . “You hear over and over again from families, from students, from teachers that kids are happier, that there’s increased morale, there’s improved school climate, there’s positive effects on school discipline, but that often doesn’t show up in surveys” of schools with four-day weeks, said Emily Morton, a research scientist at the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA and the author of the study.

When Oklahoma schools moved to four-day weeks, bullying incidents decreased by 39 percent and fighting dropped by 31 percent, Morton's research found. Less time in school explains some of that, but not all of it, she says.

Ninety-five percent of students approved of the shorter week. Teenagers used the extra day to add work hours, do chores and play sports.

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