More and more districts in this state are switching to a four-day school week schedule for different reasons.
There is a lot of talk surrounding a universal shift in the typical workday week. But it seems that discussion isn’t only reaching the workforce in general, but also public education. There has been a major uptick in interest within districts concerning a switch to four-day school weeks, especially in Texas.
The lone star state already has nearly a dozen school districts working off of a schedule that follows a four-day school week. In recent months, more and more districts have been touting a plan to do the same. The DeKalb Independent School district in DeKalb, Texas is one of those schools that recently flirted with the idea. Superintendent Chris Galloway spoke with KSLA 12 news about the district’s decision to consider the uncommon schedule. Galloway states that the idea caught his interest when he attended an educational conference in Austin Texas where it was being promoted. Similarly, he referenced neighboring districts that recently have considered doing the same.
Currently, DeKalb’s nearby districts of New Boston ISD, Hubbard ISD, and Malta ISD are all surveying the idea to switch to four-day school weeks. But like Galloway and the DeKalb district, these schools are reporting to be in the initial “information-seeking stage” as they take in public feedback on the proposed change as well. These rural eastern Texas districts aren’t alone in their quest, and many others in the state have already enacted the big change.
Northeast of Houston, Jasper Independent School district is one of the most recent to approve the change to a four-day school week. The new schedule will go into effect next year, and the decision was made when a majority favor of parents and staff showed approval for the shift. Superintendent John Seybold stated that the district recognized the switch has both positives and negatives, but he said the major reason for the change was a means to further teacher recruitment efforts.
Teacher retention is a common factor in the decision for schools to switch to a four-day school week. Considering the number of schools nationwide reeling from massive teacher shortages, it’s understandable to see why a shorter school week could be used to bolster retention and recruitment. A recent publication from Edweek discusses other benefits of making the big switch. These include cash savings and more time for extracurricular activities. But on the other hand, the disadvantages could be detrimental to the cause.
A detailed study conducted over a decade focused on nationwide districts that adopted four-day school weeks. The data suggested a bleak outlook on academics. According to the report, shorter school weeks lead to learning losses in students. On average, schools that enact these shorter schedules lose about three to four hours of instructional time every week. Within the studied schools, math scores decreased by 6 percent and reading scores fell by 4 percent. And while the extra day off and money savings are often boasted as an advantage, the report found that district savings were meager, and many school districts often don’t have any plans for students on their days off.
Because school districts still have to meet a required amount of educational hours and days each year, most schools that follow a four-day school week calendar often attend school at least an hour more each day than average districts. The idea is surely exciting to students wishing for an extra day off during the week, but it should be met with concern from both parents and educators. But unfortunately, we live in a world where education is built around finance, and it is likely more schools across America will follow suit.