Wake County should convert to a four day school week

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A 4 day week would likely be obtained by giving students Fridays off. (Photo courtesy of public domain)

Many students complain after many full weeks of school — Monday through Friday — in a row without any teacher workdays or holidays, but if the county adopted a 4 day week, students would likely have a much nicer outlook on school.

Pros and Cons

“Proponents of a four-day school week argue that it offers several benefits, including cost savings, improved student attendance and increased teacher morale. By reducing the number of school days, schools can save money on transportation, food and energy costs,” wrote the National Conference of State Legislatures.

With a longer weekend, students would also be able to sleep more, as “without enough sleep, children and teens can have problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to emotional issues and behavior problems that may affect academic achievement,” wrote the Sleep Foundation.

However, a 4-day week doesn’t only benefit students.

“A four-day school week can [also] help to boost teacher morale. With an extra day to plan lessons, grade assignments and attend professional development opportunities, teachers can feel more prepared and engaged in their work. This can lead to better job satisfaction, which can translate into better classroom performance,” said NCSL.

There are some downsides.

If Wake County takes up a 4-day week, the length of the school day would increase, as 1025 instruction hours are required for students each year. “Longer school days can be difficult for students, especially those in elementary grades”(NCSL).

In North Carolina, this would mean the school year would have to go from 185 days to 257 days (1025/4=256.25). If the school day was to be extended, it would be 8 hours and 45 minutes as opposed to the 7 hours that are in place now (7*5=35 35/4=8.75).

The research

While not many places have adopted a 4 day school week, studies were performed on the schools that have, and “the results are mixed; one study of students in 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”(NCSL).

The conference has done studies not only on performance, but also on student health and morale. According to the NCSL, “The report highlights positive qualitative findings, such as improvements in student attendance, behavioral and emotional well-being, and school climate. But it also indicates when there was no difference in quantitative data, including in the areas of sleep, fatigue and student achievement.”

Now the data may seem counterintuitive because there were no improvements in sleep, even when students had an extra day off, but they are only looking at a small sample out of the whole country.

Another study performed in Oklahoma also found that “Oklahoma high schools saw less fighting and bullying among students after switching from a five-day-a-week schedule to a four-day schedule, this study finds. Fighting declined by 0.79 incidents per 100 students and bullying dropped by 0.65 incidents per 100 students”(The Journalist’s Resource).

To put those numbers into perspective, the incidents of fighting and bullying in these schools were both less than one person out of one hundred people.

Everybody involved would benefit greatly from a 4-day week on many levels, and it could very well be the future of schooling in the United States.

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