Four-day week good for students and teachers

In an attempt to engage students and boost teacher morale, districts have resorted to various strategies.  But the one that seems most promising has been around since 1980 and yet curiously has received little attention: the four-day school week (“Are Four-Day Weeks Bad for Students?” National Education Policy Center, Sep. 4).

Although the practice was originally adopted to save money, it not only improved the morale of teachers but most importantly showed a positive relationship on the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels on math and reading achievement tests. The latter may be because the non-required fifth day was devoted to tutoring and enrichment.  But it may also be because students need a break from the lockstep five-day school week.

I wonder if student performance might be greatly improved if schools were operated year-round but with more frequent breaks. Rather than the traditional two-month summer vacation, why not distribute two-week breaks throughout the entire calendar year?  That would avoid the exhaustion experienced by students and teachers under the existing school calendar. Businesses in Sweden, New Zealand and other countries have experimented with four-day workweeks and have reported promising results in the form of happier, healthier and more productive workers.

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2 Replies to “Four-day week good for students and teachers”

  1. The four-day school week will only be politically acceptable if the schools remain open on the fifth day to provide — at a minimum — daycare.

    If the schools remain open on the fifth day, the four-day school week makes sense. Parents and students could use the fifth day to schedule out-of-school events (doctor appointments, family outings) that otherwise trigger absences. Might even be possible to use that fifth day for days that the school system knows in advance will have significantly higher than usual absence rates — i.e., religious holidays, first day of hunting season, Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

    There’s also the issue of the impact of a four-day school week — with the presumed lengthening of the school day — on extracurricular activities, particularly athletics. Possible that extracurricular activities could, to some extent, be moved from after-school to the fifth day.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: I agree that how the fifth day is used is the key. It can be dedicated to offering students remediation or acceleration. Parents can also use it for taking their children to doctors etc. I also submit that distributing vacations throughout the year is better for learning and morale than the present calendar.

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