A Colorado high school is raising student success and keeping teacher morale high since switching to a four day school week.
The 4 day school week has been tested in select schools across the nation. Implemented to combat teacher shortages and conserve resources after the pandemic, early reports are finding this method successful. Prairie View High School in Henderson, Colorado condensed teaching time and has successfully been utilizing the 4 day model for four years now.
Tuesday through Friday students come to class for longer days and receive the same hours of instruction as they did during a five day week. Teachers seeking flexibility have responded well. While many districts in the nation cannot fill vacancies, and are even offering massive bonuses in an effort to lure teachers into education positions, the school’s Superintendent Chris Fielder noted that filling teaching positions hasn’t been an issue for the school even though they offer lower pay than some surrounding districts.
Interest in the 4 day school week has increased over time. School districts implementing this model increased 600% throughout the past 20 years. 662 districts across 24 states are now teaching students 4 days a week.
In Colorado, students have continued to succeed. The graduation rate has increased, more students are keeping up with their work, and teachers are happy to reduce travel expenses. This 4 day school week has also afforded schools more time and resources for learning support to reach students who are struggling.
Other states like Montana and Texas are finding the 4 day school week to increase student achievement, but other states experienced the opposite. Both Oregon and Oklahoma tested this method and found that student success rates dropped. Learning loss occurred due to the fact that the concept was not practically adapted. Instead of increasing the length of each school day during the 4 day week, many districts in Oregon and Oklahoma merely cut out a day. Without shifting much-needed classroom time to the remaining 4 days, students suffered and their education outcomes worsened.
The Education Commission of the States released a report in 2020 which found that the 4 day school week reduced utility costs by 17.7%, student transportation costs by 17.4%, and custodial costs by 16.7%. This cut districts’ total annual budget by an average of 2.5%, but has been found to reduce costs by over 5% in some cases. While this may not seem like much to some officials, that amounts to about $154,000 saved. Schools that are seeking to improve classroom standards could easily allocate this money toward teaching materials.
Having found a balance between a flexible schedule and offering proper classroom time, the Prairie View High is serving as a model for other schools looking to test the 4 day school week. As numerous schools struggle during the teacher shortage, restrictive budgets have even led teachers to seek funding from crowdfunding websites drawing in educators, cutting costs, and meeting the needs of students is the main goal. Condensing the school week into 4 days while still providing ample in-person learning has proven to meet all of these needs and is likely to gain further support.