Is a four-day school week a good idea?

Is a four-day school week a good idea?

While a four-day school week would be music to many children’s ears, it is understandable that parents would worry about issues such as childcare and how their child’s academic outcomes might be impacted.

However, in Hawaii and over 100 school districts in rural areas of the United States, the four-day week has been implemented to save money on transformation, heating and substitute teachers.

In September, a school in west London will become the first primary in England to move to a 4½-day week in an attempt to save money as it struggles with ongoing financial issues.

In a letter to families, the school asked its parent community to “actively start to investigate childcare options for your children on Friday afternoons”.

So what about student outcomes?

Some education researchers have pointed out that little is known about the effects of a four-day week on student outcomes.

One study of students in the US state of Colorado showed a statistically significant improvement in math scores among students on a four-day schedule, while a similar study found no significant differences in student performance.

An unpublished study in Oregon showed a temporary decline in academic performance among students who switched to a four-day schedule, particularly among minority, low-income, and special needs students.

However, four years after the transition, student performance in four-day schools was not significantly different from that of five-day schools.

And as Brian Hadfield – a Middle School teacher in Chippewa Valley Public Schools, Michigan – points out, the lost day, spread out over the four days, results only in about 10 extra minutes per class period.

“Students also have extra time to complete homework and do projects over the extended weekend. With online education being emphasised by states and districts, the extra weekday would allow for this,” Hadfield writes in an article published on the University of Scranton website.

“Other possible benefits include a rise in morale and decrease in absenteeism, by both staff and students.”

Additionally, says Hadfield, parents finally have time to make appointments for their children that won’t conflict with school.

“Parents take their children on long-weekend family trips, or attend sporting events – all without sacrificing academic instruction,” he said.