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.