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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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7 Comments


Guest
Jul 12, 2022

Surprised to hear that working and attending school one day less a week would be so popular among teachers and students. That a lot of parents say they like it is not necessarily an endorsement, either. (There are downsides for parents such as needing child care if they're working.) I'm recalling the finding by Paul Hill from his study in Idaho that the four-day week was much less popular when the non-student day was Wednesday.


Love the new look of the site, Joanne.

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Jul 11, 2022

The pandemic disrupted testing (and everything else), so it's hard to evaluate whether students are doing worse, better or the same with a four-day schedule. I think the pre-pandemic evidence suggests it's about the same. Of course, it depends on implementation. And some students will do better than others.

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Guest
Jul 11, 2022

<i> The district provides recreational programs on the fifth day that serve as day care. </i>


Oh please. The majority of the time spent in the district's custody serves a day care.

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Guest
Jul 10, 2022

As many homeschoolers know, they can do a weeks worth of the planned curriculum in one productive afternoon. And it's been shown, by desk audits, that only about 2 hours of the school day is actual instruction.


But by not holding school, that leaves the parents needing to cover supervision that extra day. How long before the "advocates" start whining about kids not being supervised properly.

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Guest
Jul 10, 2022

I'm coming to the conclusion that almost any change that is made in an attempt to fix an education problem leads to further bifurcation, and I can see the 4 day week having that effect. There is a lot of wasted time in schools, so I'm not terribly worried that the teachers can't cover the material in the shortened amount of time. I only get 2 contact hours each week with my biology class but I cover the same material that the public schools do, and it's enough time to leave them feeling well prepared for college science.


What I'd expect to see, based on watching homeschoolers for the past decade, is that the motivated will make better use of…

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