Double shift schools, in which students either attend in the morning or the afternoon/evening, have been in use throughout the world since the early 20th century. There are observers who believe double shift schools are a way to save resources and give students flexibility. Others believe double shift schools may be a disservice to their students.
Double shift schools have been used in the United States since the early 20th century. The use of double shift schools began to emerge with the Great Depression, when districts crippled by the economic downturn could not afford to build new schools. Double shift schools also allowed some students to work on the farm or at a job before attending school for part of the day. Double shift schools also have a history of segregation in many areas of the U.S. According to the encyclopedia of Chicago, many Chicago schools in black neighborhoods were on double shifts, while schools in white neighborhood were not.
In a double shift school, one group of students reports to school in the morning for a full load of classes. Another group of students reports in the late afternoon or evening for a full load of classes. Some countries, according to UNESCO, have students report on alternate days for a full day as well. In some countries, girls attend class in the morning, and boys attend in the afternoon. Most double shift schools that operate two shifts each day have a 20- to 30-minute break in the middle of the day so students can leave or arrive for their classes. There are double shift schools that incorporate remediation, guidance and extracurricular activities into each session.
According to the World Bank, double shift schools in developing countries allow those students who want to finish school a chance to attend in the evenings while working full-time during the day. Double shift schools also reduce overcrowding and allow for maximum use of resources. Teachers in double shift schools may obtain higher salaries, which can be important in countries where teacher wages are low. Finally, double shift schools allow greater access to students in rural areas who may have transportation issues to get to school.
There are negatives to double shift schools, according to the World Bank. In many countries, double shift schools serve predominantly poor populations, and educators have concerns that these particularly vulnerable students are not receiving the same education as their peers. Also, some double shift school students spend less time in class than their peers -- in some countries, as little as half -- which may lead to reduced knowledge gained. Because double shift schools keep students in the classroom for less than the average school day -- five or six hours, as opposed to seven hours -- certain subjects such as science and technology may be cut from the schedule. Finally, most double school students do not have the opportunity to experience extracurricular activities.
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