Are four days of school better than five?

Studies have found student achievement either stayed the same or improved
By: | May 13, 2016

In seeking to save money while also boosting teacher recruitment and retention, the Pierce City R-VI School District in Missouri switched to a four-day school week this school year.

The time is made up by extending the school day 30 minutes. It increased learning time by 20 hours. “We want to create a culture where our good teachers want to stay” Superintendent Russ Moreland says.

Teachers say they feel refreshed after their routine three-day weekends—a key reason for doing it, he adds.

More than 120 districts nationwide have a four-day week, according to a 2009 research brief, “A Review of the Evidence on the Four Day School Week.” Studies of schools that have made the change found student achievement either stayed the same or improved.

In Oklahoma, more than 100 districts are considering making the switch, according to the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. But shortened weeks can create troubling side-effects, such as childcare needs. For some students relying on school meals, a shortened school week can mean going hungry, according to an EnidNews.com story.

In Pierce City, classes meet Tuesday through Friday, with the exception of shortened holiday weeks. Monday is the day off because most federal holidays fall that day. And Fridays are key for sports competitions and other activities that might involve other districts. The district also can schedule snow day make-ups and PD days on Mondays.

Pierce City saves roughly $70,000 a year, or 1 percent of its expenditures. And teachers use fewer sick days because they schedule doctor visits and other appointments on Mondays. “The biggest benefit is instruction” Moreland says. “We have our people in front of our kids more often and that’s a win.”