More schools experiment with four-day school weeks, but do they help students?
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For an ever-growing number of students across the country, every weekend is a three-day weekend — some educators say it’s even helping students learn more.
While these shorter weeks have helped struggling school districts cut costs, there is still a lack of data to show whether it is truly beneficial or harmful to students, Madeleine Cummings reported for Slate.
Schools in 21 different states, including Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Wyoming, have schools that only operate four days a week, according to the National Council of State Legislators. These schools are typically found in small, rural communities that have fewer students enrolled.
While some districts experimented with shorter school weeks, they became very popular in the 1970s during the energy crisis, according to the NCSL.
Those in favor of four-day school weeks argue their students are more rested and teachers are more prepared to teach, Cummings reported. Teachers, who are salaried employees, are able to use their extra time to prepare more thorough lesson plans and prepare for each week more fully.
“(The four-day school week) allows us to steer the boat in the direction we see fit and feel more respected as educators,” Zach Parker, a history teacher at a school following this schedule, told Cummings.
Schools have also seen a decline in absences because students have a full day off of school to schedule doctor appointments and compete in athletic events, which usually happen on Fridays, Sheehy reported.
The only benchmarks to measure the success of four-day school weeks are test scores, but so many other factors can account for increases or decreases in scores, too. This makes evaluating the four-day workweek difficult.
Some school districts have reverted back to five-day school weeks for many reasons, Cummings reported. In certain areas, educators have seen students struggle with longer school days and worry about students receiving free or reduced lunches.
In Council, Idaho, Superintendent Murray Dalgleish told Slate that parents in the community voted to take elementary students off the four-day week schedule because it created so many issues.
“I really rue the fact that we did this,” he says. “What we’ve done is taken five days and compressed them into four and made busy lives even busier.”
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