Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Four-Day School Week

Years ago I was on an alternative scheduling committee for the school where I was teaching, as the school considered changes - to block or modified block or an eight period day or a hybrid - as a way of improving instruction. That was, at least in theory, the only reason for investigating such change - to improve instruction. While no changes were ever made after no evidence could be found for a worthwhile change, I proposed a radical idea - the Four-Day School Week.

While it was a new idea to me, I've learned that many school districts actually function on a four-day week for primarily financial reasons. In fact, as many as 40% of school districts in Colorado only go to school Monday to Thursday. These are almost exclusively mountain and rural districts for which the logistics and savings of not opening the school five days just make sense. However, my four-day week was actually grounded in the idea of college scheduling. Variable schedules for better efficiency. And with a greater emphasis on skills and job training these day, a four-day week would allow - at least at the high school level - greater opportunity for interning and work-study.

I proposed an extended day for Monday-Thursday, and Friday would be an "office hours" day. Clubs and activities could meet on Friday, and sports could offer extended practices. Many meetings such as 504s and IEPs could be conducted on these days, so as not to disrupt classes. And additional staff meetings and professional development could happen as well. Obviously, the plan for office hours and supplemental classes is the heart of the idea to increase student achievement.  The most important aspect is the idea of supplemental learning and academic support opportunities. A chance to "catch up" one day a week could do wonders for student achievement.  And, now it seems the plan is being tested.  The 500-student WACO school district in Iowa plans to shift to a four-day week.

3 comments:

Redefining Rigor said...

Great post. I think this goes in line with the idea that learning can happen anywhere, anytime, and doesn't need to be confined to a specific schedule mandated by the state. My high school recently extended the school day slightly in order to embed time during the school day for academic assistance, clubs to meet, or to even leave campus for upperclassmen. I would love to see more schools think outside of their traditional schedules to better meet the needs of 21st century learners.

Xuan Nhi said...

Thank you for posting this, it's nice to hear from a teacher's perspective. I have been reading into this and seeing the changes/impacts since some of these schools have migrated to a four day school week. Some of the benefits that I've found is that absenteeism has lowered for both students and teachers. Performance has also increased. Looking into some of the statistics today in the Iowa area, abseentism has been steadily increasing throughout the decades. It is not a good trend, poor attendance leads to lower graduation levels. I have included the link for this data below. Therefore I believe that a four day school week is definitely a right trend in helping increase our students graduation percentage and at the same time balance out or decreasing our budgets to allow room for more community volunteer time etc...

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_210.10.asp

mmazenko said...

Thank you, Xuan Nhi. I appreciate the feedback and the graph. You are absolutely right, and I continue to advocate for it.