Four-day school weeks are an option for school districts across the United States facing tough economic times. A lifesaver for small rural school districts in 17 states, they have their pros and cons.

History

School districts face rising fuel, energy and education costs. Some states—including Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas and New York—have instituted four-day school weeks to cut costs and increase efficiency. The earliest appearance of the four-day school week was in South Dakota in the 1930s.

Identification

Most school districts with four-day school weeks are small and rural and have a student population of fewer than 1,000.

Variations

School districts implement the four-day school week in different ways. While many offer them the entire school year, others employ them only during winter months or every other week.

Effect on Students

According to David L. Silvernail, director of the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation at the University of Southern Maine, most of the research on the subject has shown four-day school weeks to have a positive or negligible effect on student achievement.

Disadvantages

Some of the disadvantages of a four-day school week are longer days that cause fatigue, loss in wages for school staff and difficulty restoring a five-day week later on.