Changing the five day school week has been argued for and against due the controversy as to whether or not it would actually be beneficial to students and teachers. When approaching the idea, many people would like to believe that five day school weeks are the most efficient and productive way to educate our youth. What is often overlooked, however, is that it is causing students to dread school more than they already do, and lessen their willingness to be in or attentive at school.
Not only this, but many teachers easily get behind on either grading or lesson planning, while the school could actually save money when switching to this schedule. By refreshing the way the school schedule has previously been, we can address the issue of exhausted students who don’t truly learn anything, teachers who are overwhelmed with work and the economic questions within America’s schools. Providing both students and teachers with a more equal week of break and school time by having Wednesdays off will make students more willing to attend school, give the teachers time to furnish their lesson plans and give the school a break in costs.
When faced with the four day school week in multiple state in the Western region of the United States, the results of many schools proved that it would be truly be beneficial to student attendance. In “The Four-day School Week: Information and Recommendation”, Beesley and Anderson magnifies the point that the new schedule resulted in “more time for appointments, family trips, and working…” because of the extra time that they received from a shorter school week. With the ability of having Wednesdays off, a day virtually all businesses are open, allows the opportunity for students to make time for priorities that occur outside of school while not having to miss school and makeup work. It also allows those students in high schools who work to pick up more hours to make more money, which is always helpful as a student headed for the path to college.
Not only did students gain from this school week, but the school staff was also granted a break. It was recognized that “teachers reported a lot of wasted time within the five-day school week, and that the four-day week forced them to focus on instruction to a much higher degree. The additional time devoted to planning and preparation that the four-day week provided helped them connect instruction and planning in a more effective manner” (Hewitt and Anderson, The Four-Day School Week: Impact on Student Academic Performance, pg. 26). The extra day will allow for instructors to thoroughly make their lesson plans and to even spend time with their own families and attend their own personal appointments.
The cost efficiency is one of the main factors that is pushing schools to lean toward, or maintain, a four-day school week. “The premise is that by operating a four-day week, a school district can save on utilities (e.g. heating buildings) and transportation (bussing)” (Hewitt and Anderson, The Four-Day School Week: Impact on Student Academic Performance, pg. 24).
While it is noted that some schools may remain open on the break day to pursue student punishment or staff meetings, those who close completely during this time obviously show more savings than those who don’t. This day should not be used as a ‘punishment day’ as many schools already have Saturday School to meet the disciplinary needs and this day is to allow more opportunity to both students and staff. Staff includes those janitors and administration who don’t need to make lesson plans, but need to rest from their after-hours cleaning, or long days of staring at a computer screen to organize school files and finances.
The one question that many people pose when they are faced with the idea of the four-day school week is “How will the lost time be accounted for?” The answer is simple. The school days will be extended; although not by much. The minimum amount of hours of schooling required by the State of Virginia, for example, is 180 school days or 990 teaching hours. With the five day school week that runs for seven hours a day, we receive 1,170 hours with 180 days. Therefore, if we switch to a seven and a half hour day, four days a week we will only need to attend school for 136 days and we will still receive 1,020 teaching hours.
The other major question that arises when the four-day school week is considered is how it will impact student’s test scores and grades. Some people claim that it will raise scores because of the idea students will be more attentive in school, thus increasing their intellect. Despite these claims, the test scores of students do not significantly increase or decrease. Similar to Beesley and Anderson’s suggestion, it seems that schools save money while maintaining comparable test scores. (The Four-Day School Week: Information and Recommendations, pg. 26). Overall, it seems as though the benefits of a four-day school week are strong enough for it to pull through despite the fact it doesn’t dramatically increase test scores.
When considering all of the pros and cons of whether or not schools should switch to a four-day schedule, I see it fit for them to switch. The preference of students and staff along with the opportunity to cut costs seems like a good bargain for comparable test scores and less days in school. It also is a good way for staff and students to keep up with work and lives outside of the school scene and to make time for families. Overall, the benefits outweigh the nonexistent interruptions in American education.
Beesley, Andrea, and Carmon Anderson. “The Four-Day School Week: Information and Recommendations.” _Rural Educator_ 1 Nov. 2007. Print.
Hewitt, Paul, and George Denny. “The Four-Day School Week: Impact on Student Academic Performance.” _Rural Educator_ 1 Feb. 2011. Print.
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