Several Arizona school districts are doing this to save money, and the reason is that they depend heavily on state funding, which is depleting as I type.
This concept is borne of financial desperation, but districts estimate they can save 3 percent to 15 percent by going to the condensed schedule. Districts already doing this state that it does not appear to harm student achievement, but it does increase stress.
Arizona, my state, mandates a 180-day school year – three weeks less than most of Europe and Asia, where students usually outperform U.S. kids in math, science and reading.
What are your thoughts and is a 4-day school week in your future?
I would state that there should be a case-by-case basis. Should struggling and behind students be afforded a day off? Would this just add to the worry of parents, or would it put low-income students in an unsafe environment for another day? I would also state that the "day off" should be spent researching, job-shadowing, and volunteering which is mandatory.
If there were a set schedule giving the schools a one day break and keeping the students involved in the community then yes. If it is just an extended weekend no.
Thank you for your response, and I think that the students would be going the same amount of hours per week, but I like your idea of Community Service and extended research/homework during the day off.
Anyone have any other ideas to make this four-day week for students/teachers work?
Kingston, We have had a 4 day school week in my district for over 20 years now. It is great. We have longer days M-Thursday so students receive the same amount of instruction time. The school day is 8 - 4:30. Works great for parents those days as it is real close to their work day hours, so saves them the worry of kids home alone. They only need to plan for Friday. Students do not miss class for athletic/club events as they are on Fridays. Parents schedule doctor appointments, etc for Fridays. We have partnered with the Recreation Department for student opportunities on Fridays as well.The opportunities that it offers is great including community projects. Older students can get work experience/hours by being available Fri-Sun. We also offer "Friday School" which is for any student that has a D in that week, can come in, get tutoring or reteach. Friday school is mandated for students that have a D for more than two weeks in a row. Teachers have multiple opportunities for Professional Development on Fridays. 11 Fridays per year are required within their teacher contract. They can be met by doing a combination of half days or full days of either PD or tutoring students. 4 of those can be met by attending a summer institute of Proffesional Development. On other weeks teachers love getting 3 day weekends. We are usually are the highest performing district in our state, and always in the top 5. I could go on and on... but I believe that it is a great for education model. I would be happy to share more anytime.
Judy, thank you for your information...........I am learning more about this concept daily. I never thought of parents liking the schedule because the release time is 4:30, closer to the end of the parents' work day. It doesn't look like it is hurting your students academically if your district is the highest peforming in the state.
I just read an article that states, "1/4 of South Dakota's districts will have moved to some form of the abbreviated schedule. Only Colorado and Wyoming have a larger proportion of schools using a shortened week. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 120 school districts in 20 states, most in the west, now use four-day weeks. The number of districts going to four-day weeks has nearly doubled in just two years."
So does anyone else have some input on this? The GOOD. The BAD. The UGLY?
Judy, I really like this plan that your district has followed for 20 years. It obviously is working and has been well supported in your area. Like Kingston's area, our school district requires 180 days for the students. With continued budget cuts, several school board members have mentioned longer school days and a shorter school week, but I don't think anyone has established a plan to present officially to the board.
How do you keep your students motivated for the longer day? Do you provide more rest periods for the younger children? Do you notice any difference in the academic performance of the students as the day progresses?
Thanks for sharing.
Pasco County school district in Florida just begun the four day week schedule. Over the summer numerous parents and organizations were attacking the school district on the local news. Currently, as the school year has begun there has been less noise about the issue. The local news has even went back into the school district and spoken to parents and teachers since the four day week has begun. Unexpected, many teachers like the four day schedule and parents have come on board.
Good Morning al!
I think a four day school week would be marvelous. I read Judy's entry and thought, "Now there's a district that values their educators and works in tandem with the community!" What a novel idea!
There are definitely benefits to having a 4 day work week and learning week. The doctor's appointment scheduling would be handled better for students as well as educators! Educators would have an opportunity to attend events that would required them to miss days (travel), educators could offer or participate in extension or remediation instruction for students. I like the "Friday School" that Judy mentioned too. With all this wonderful technology, it would carve out time to actually view and learn from the available wealth of sites in a more friendly way. Going through the Thinkfinity Verizon Training has shifted my perspective in how I plan lessons. I feel the four-day work week would truly support educator collaboration.
I am an elemetary school teacher and it would allow some more time to double dose the readers who are far behind and continue to stay behind as they move through their educational career. Acquiring those foundation skill is necessary at the elementary level or els we all have to deal with it. Imagine that...an educational system that works together FOR the actual stakeholders! Now that requires a paradigm shift in thinking from all perspectives!
If dnoe right and with a plan, the elementary and middle school students would arrive "more equipped". Higher education would also see a difference in the freshman class abilities. As you can see I am a visionist and like to look at the big picture. If we want to run with the "competitors" we've got to "invest in the training"!
I love your thought and totally agree with your positive energy, AND I am going to steal your last line, "If we want to run with the "competitors," we've got to "invest in the training"! Our school district is making some changes and this is the PERFECT comment.
Where do I sign up? I always think about how rested I am after a 4-day workweek and a 3-day weekend. We have a large number of students who are in our afterschool program until 6 PM. They are at school, the teachers are already at school - make it educational time and take the extra day off. Definitely win-win not to mention the savings in transportation costs!
If a four day week is to be successful, the needs of the students must be foremost in the decision-makers' minds! Consider the fact that for many students, the time spent in school is the best time of their week. The role models they have at school are the strongest role models they have in their daily life. Friday school or Friday activities should be an option for all students, regardless of their academic status. I am familiar with Judy's district, and they have got the four day week figured out very well. Students can be quite involved on Fridays if their families choose so, or families are free to use that time in other ways. Allowing teachers the opportunities for professional development as part of their work week is a huge bonus, and they do this well! And if we are honest, who doesn't like the idea of a three day weekend once in a while?
To me, the real question is not, "How many days a week do your students attend school?" but "How effective is your district at educating students to their fullest potential?"
The four day vs. five day school week decision reminds me a little of a card I once read that said something like, "Success in life is not measured by counting the number of years lived, but in making the years count." Seems like it could be applied to school days as well!
I enjoyed reading your response and like the emphasis placed on what benefits the students most. Afterall, they are the reason for schools existing. The quote you mentioned at the conclusion of your post is so true--basically, quality versus quantity. What a novel idea for education!
In my county in Georgia we'vve been doing 4 days for the last year and a half. It is SO stressful and so wearing on teachers than many of us go home and collapse. We've had 3 employees die this year so far, and I have to believe that the exhaustion and stress is a part of it. We're a small rural system with approx 4,000 students. I HAVE to be at school at 7:15 but I usually come in an hour earlier so I can have more time to get ready for the students. We HAVE to clock out by 5PM because that is when the office closes. I'm often here until 6 at night. By the time this old girl (60) goes home, I take a shower put on my pj's and I'm going to bed at 8 and 9 at night. And it's not just that I'm a geezer. I know several of the young teachers with children that are feeling overworked and overwhelmed too. The kids are falling asleep in the car on the way home (Elementary). Crime has risen on Mondays because there are lots of latchkey kids that are up to mischief on Mondays. The bus drivers who work on an hourly wage effectively got a 20% cut in pay. That makes there job less attractive. Yes, we saved some money on utilities, and diesel for the buses, but ultimately the 4 day week is exhausting. In 2015 we're going back to a 5 day week. I'll be retired by then, but let me tell you, the hours are literally a killer, and if you spend Saturday trying to recover from you 4 day week, how have you gained anything? The only good thing I can say about it is that it makes it easy to make doctor appointments. By Sunday I feel like a human. By Monday the kids have forgotten anything you taught them from the week before. And on Tuesday you have gaggles of hyper kids that have stayed home and eaten suggary stuff for three days and can't settle down. Think long and hard before you consider the 4 day week because you sure won't be coming in at 7:30 and leaving at 3:30 anymore. No time for choir practice, a social life, no nothing. Just exhaustion!
In HS we're on blocks. They're now 111 minutes long. Arriving at 7:15 we have 15 minutes to get ready for students at 7:30. We have 146 days to do what we used to do in 180. The students leave at 3:44, but we're required to stay until 4:50 because of contractual time requirements. It makes teaching a true "mill work" type setting. You are always racing to get things done. Never enough time. Have to take bathroom breaks because our ever incontinent youngsters can't hold it for 111 minutes so there's 10 minutes of your 111 minutes taken just to go potty. It's insane. Just give it some thought before you consider "going there." It might be WAY more than you bargained for. The 9 weeks flys by, and then at the end of the second quarter we get the kids ready for an End of Course, high-stakes test that we've literally just barely been able to cover the material from the state standards on. It's like putting on lip gloss and making a pretty picture, but the substance, leaway for curiosity and ability to stop for questions and inquiry has been ripped out of the classroom. I feel the most sorry for the elementary kids. They are exhausted by the end of their day -- I'm betting their teachers are too!
I have seen the four day school week for students and five days for teachers model in Europe and it makes a degree of sense to me. The teachers see the students in their classrooms for four days and on the fifth day the teachers meet in groups and plan integrated projects across the subject areas. On the fifth day the kids go to the school or somewhere else but work on a project that the teachers have set up. They can go to the library to work independently, arrange to meet with experts in the field, go to a museum, or to the school building. If they are in the school building they are helped by aids or assistance. I would like to see year round school with maybe a few two week breaks per season. I think the kids lose too much during the two month summer vacation.
Most of the schools in our rural Arizona county have gone to a 4 day model. It was quite a change for parents at first, but now, they find it convenient for scheduling doctor appointments, dentist appointments, long family weekends, etc. Most of the teachers truly appreciate the extra day off!
I am not sure there are a lot of financial savings as there is still always someone in the building on Friday - working, cleaning, planning......so, lights and heat/cool are still on.
After the initial adjustment period, most teachers say the extra long school day is not a problem for them nor for their students.
I understand that going to the 4-day week is for financial reasons, but let's say it wasn't. In a few years, people would still complain about 4 days being too much. Every Monday I see people that are angry because the weekend is over. I look at the people without jobs and am hapy to have somewhere to go on a Monday and everyday of the week!
Again, I like the idea. I suggested it to Los Angeles County of Education a few years back when they were collecting green ideas. They didn't respond. I don't know how parents would respond, particularly parents with younger students. You almost need community involvement (after school programs or local city programs) to offer something. Or maybe if more fields buy into it, the parents would be off also or they would have other events/activities going on.
There is also online support that could eventually work into this 4 day a week school idea.
I see the logic in saving resources this way, but it kind of follows the same thinking as eating six meals today so you don't have to eat tomorrow. Kids are not robots. Their attention spans and energy levels need to be taken into consideration. We can't work them extra hard for fewer days and still expect the same results.
Several other Community members have offered thoughts on a 4-day school week.
According to Justina Nixon-Saintil, South Dakota moved to a 4 day school week Fall 2011 due to budget cuts. See the article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110821/us-shrinking-school-week/
Loren Salvesen posted, "I'm torn when it comes to a 4 day school week. There are pros and cons to this type of schedule. The 5th day could be used for extracurricular activities, doctor's appointments, and other activities would usually be scheduled during school. This could help reduce the number of absences. Everyone would enjoy having an extra day off to get caught up. But if time is being made up with longer class days, this could be a problem. Many people, teachers and students, will have a hard time with the longer hours. They will be tired and ready to get out before the last class period is reached. I think learning will decrease during the last class and/or first class if school starts earlier. I also believe that when students have 3 day weekends they forget a lot of the material taught during the week. I don’t like to give tests after the weekend because students forget the material; this will worsen with a 3 day weekend."
Karen Horn suggested, "Another idea on the 4-day week would be the year-long school. Several schools have tried this and while not all have been successful mainly because of interfering with the athletic schedules, many parents and teachers both seemed to like the six weeks on and 3 weeks off or whatever combination was agreed upon. It certainly discounts the old adage that kids forget over the summer what they learned the previous year."
I am not sure I am for a reduced academic week because part of the reason why children are in school is so they have a productive environment in which to develop their schmas while parents are away at work. If anything, I am for late start (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6896471) even though it presents a similar argument that parents, who have a set work schedule and, may not be able to drop off their children at school, or pick them up late.