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Often times the rhetoric around the four-day school week is overwhelming. The common complaints are that parents will have to find child care or watch their children on the fifth day (usually Fridays), cooks and custodians will lose wages and that students will be in school less.
Although students attend school less days they can actually attend more hours. More and more districts across the United States are looking at the four-day week as a cost savings measure and finding out that the four-day week is actually better for students, staff and families.
There are multiple negative attributes that need to be addressed, and there are proven strategies to alleviate some of the negative effects of the four-day school week (i.e., fatigue for younger children; lack of child care on the fifth day; decrease in wages for classified support staff).
What is more important is that the four-day week has shown:
1. Academic achievement by students improved, or at worse, stayed the same.
2. Teacher attendance rates increase, decreasing the need for subsitutes, and increasing student achievement. Our district decrease teacher absenteeism rates by 21.8% of work hours available (not days)
3. Student discipline incidents decrease
4. Student absenteeism decreases
5. Student seat hours are increased
6. Staff morale improves, and teacher vitality is invigorated
7. Long weekends allow for additional time to complete major projects.
As a closure to this post, I would like to point out the most important change that improves education for students on a four-day week over a five-day week: Consistency.
On a five day week students are sent home constantly for teachers to do non-instructional tasks. These tasks include conferences, curriculum days, work days, grading days, inservice days and the like. Most often, districts result to the tactic of keeping teachers while students are sent home on half-days. This strategy decrease student attendance and engagement.
On a four-day week you have four days of school every week. If a holiday is on a Monday you go to school Tuesday through Friday. Instead of sending students home so teachers can do non-instructional tasks YOU BRING TEACHERS IN ON FRIDAYS!! :)
There is a tremendous amount of rhetoric involved with the evolution to a four-day week. Try to get the facts. You can go to either of the following websites for factual information:
Review the facts and become knowledgeable - the four-day school week may be an option for your district (but it may not be). If you are looking at the four-day only to save money your are missing the boat.
I am surprised few people mentioned the impact the 4-day would have on working families...that would mean an extra day of families having to pay for some kind of child care or staying home from work.
Look, as a kid I probably would have loved having an extra day off from school, but that doesn't mean necessarily that it would be the best thing educationally.
If we tap into today's learners who have been called digital learners and have stated that they learn any where, any place, any pace, with the use of their technology, then who needs to limit it to 4 days? Results recently shared with the US Congress in the Speak Up (2010)research indicated that today's students are learning more OUTSIDE the classroom. The researchers called them "free agent learners" because they go and educate themselves using the internet, web 2.0 tools, cell phones etc.
In addition, the research done on online schools, have pointed to the fact that "seat time" isn't an accurate measure of how students learn. So why do we have to limit their "learning time" to days or hours at all? Why not measure it by how much they learn, and let them decide when they would like to learn? If we set standards that measure their learning, does it matter if they learn it in 12 years of school...or if they need to take 16 years, or can be done in 10 and can move to higher level education?
If we can combine what face to face schools do with how virtual schools measure learning, we could be moving our kids further and faster through the basics, and letting them focus on fields that interest them. And if we adapt the tools that students use as if attached to them, we'd have easy ways to measure what they are learning both inside and outside of school..
If there was any pedagogical idea behind cutting the fifth day of school - maybe it would be worth thinking about. But as I understood, the basic intention for this is just saving money!
So I ask: What's the worth of children and children's education in your country?
And: Did anyone look for alternatives as new, fuel saving schoolbusses? Modified architecture to save costs for airconditioning and/or lightning?
In Germany the first schools start to return to 6-day-school-week - but for pedagogical reasons!
at my school we are doing project cizten and our subject is a four day school week. it is the best idea and it can realy help with our money,we are realy going over our time that we have too go to school and we are still makeing up for our snow days still and we can also help our education go uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppppppppppppppppp.
I have relatives that teach in four day schools and they love it. The kids are better behaved and do better in their school work because they are getting more rest in the three days off and having more time to do their homework. The teachers are also less stressed and able to do their jobs well because they have time to grade papers, go to appointments, and rest! Being a teacher in today's society is VERY stressful! Having an extra day helps sooo much. We are NOT the babysitting facility like many parents think. Parents shouldn't rely on the school systems for somewhere for their kids to go. We educate not babysit!!
But if you have homework every day, then maybe the teachers could just have everything due in the following Monday. Then you have a little time in the evenings and a three-day weekend to do you homework!
I think that this is a great idea! I am doing a research project on shorter school weeks and if anyone would be kind enough to help me with it, that would be awesome!
It looks it could be at least one solution for now, especially for remote schools where there is a great deal of bussing.
The four-day school week is currently used by over 120 school districts in 20 different states. Some districts like Peach County Georgia School District saved 200,000 dollars last semester using this system, and the district is on track to save 39 teaching jobs and 400,000 dollars by the end of the school year. “The savings so far have been phenomenal” said Sara Mason, spokeswoman for the district.
Oregon’s rural Morrow County School District 1 adopted the four-day school week offered through a state policy option to lower expenses 10 years ago. The district is currently saving 250,000 dollars in a 14 million dollar budget, mostly from salaries from classified employees, such as cooks, bus drivers, and teacher’s aides.
Other districts have not saved much money, but there are other benefits. According to an article written in 2003 by Greta Durr in the State Legislators Publication, Custer School District in South Dakota adopted a four-day week in 1995 with the goal of reducing its budget 70,000 dollars. The savings were not as much as estimated, but a school survey showed that the change boosted morale, reduced absenteeism, decreased the number of substitute teachers, and led to a boom in participation in extra-curricular activities. The survey also found that teachers were covering more academic content than they had under the traditional five-day schedule.
Fridays could be used for doctors appointments, teacher inservice, and extra-curricular activities. (If you go Mon-Thurs) Up to half a a school districts travel may be on Fridays, where certified teachers are often pulled out of the classroom, and substitute teachers often have to be hired.
The greatest concerns seem to be the length of the school day, obtaining child care for yet another day, and the possible loss or hours and possible job losses for cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and teachers aides.
I do not know if this is the solution, but it may be the solution for now.
I say that the four day school week is a great idea all schools should have this