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A Much Needed Respite: Four-Day School Weeks

Why MCPS Needs to Shorten the Week
Five-day+weeks+can+sometimes+be+a+lot+to+handle
Katie Dorsey
Five-day weeks can sometimes be a lot to handle

B-CC students recently missed the majority of a school week due to holidays and inclement weather cancellations, which served as a reminder that effective learning clearly necessitates more than one day of school per week. But does that mean we need to attend for a traditional five days? Not necessarily. In consideration of the needs of students, teachers, and in effort to streamline the budget, MCPS should transition to a four-day school week.

One of the most important ways that a four-day week helps students is in their academics. It is tricky to maintain a solid level of focus and productivity over an entire five-day week. Sophomore Benjamin Katz, said, “Friday is, by far, my least productive day. I just get burnt out by the time the week is over.” With fewer school days each week, students would be better able to focus and learn on each of those days, increasing academic performance. An MIT study found “a positive relationship between the four-day school week and the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels on math and reading achievement tests.” 

This kind of achievement is not the only benefit students would see from a four-day school week. Arguably, more important is the benefit that this system could provide to students’ mental health by allowing them more free time and opportunities to connect with those they love. Analysis from non-profit, RAND Corporation indicates that middle and high-school students with four-day school weeks reported 3.5 hours more free time, on average, than their peers in five-day districts. Across all four-day schedule districts studied, parents, too, felt the shorter week made spending time as a family easier. Freshman Daniel Slade commented, “A four-day week would be great…I would use the extra day to spend time with my loved ones.”

Teachers would also benefit from the switch. Missouri State University reported that four-day school weeks contribute to better balance between life and work. This balance in turn contributed to improved morale for educators. A study from MSU found that 78% of teachers agreed that “the four-day school week has improved staff morale in our school district.” The same study also found that 83% of teachers “prefer to work in a school district with a four-day school week.” Several B-CC teachers agree. Child Development teacher, Mrs. Sherman, said, “I think [a four-day school week] is a fantastic idea. An extra day of the weekend means more time to catch up on rest and do things like doctor’s appointments that are difficult to find time for during the school week.”

A switch to four-day weeks would allow for improvements in teacher recruitment and retention, so that MCPS could continue providing students with the best of the best. Data from Linq, a company seeking to improve K-12 education, showed positive results of the four-day week. Accompanied by increases in the number and quality of applicants for new teaching positions, in one district, the data showed “the turnover rate for teachers dropped from 21% to 13%.” With a teacher shortage sweeping the nation, switching to a four-day schedule would be a great way to ensure that the pool of great MCPS teachers never dries up.

Ultimately, running a school is costly. Juggling buses, utilities, and maintenance, the cost for a single school day can become remarkably high. Luckily, a four-day school week allows for a significant cost reduction by lowering the number of days a school is open and needs to be operational. Data from The Education Commission of the States shows savings as high as 2.5% of a district’s budget after switching to four-day weeks. Former MCPS superintendent requested over 3.3 billion dollars for next fiscal year. A 2.5% reduction in costs could mean nearly $85 million in savings for the district annually. Even taking the lowest savings percentage found by the study, .4%, MCPS would save well over ten million dollars per year just by switching to a four-day system. Then, money could be spent in several ways countywide (say, for example, providing free school meals to all students).

A transition to a four-day school week would be overwhelmingly beneficial for MCPS. From growing student performance and mental health, to increasing teacher morale and retention, to saving the county millions of dollars, it is clear that MCPS needs to shorten the school week.

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About the Contributors
Seth Gehl, Staff Reporter
Seth Gehl is a sophomore at BCC, and a first time Tattler writer. He loves debate, trivia, and two of his three siblings.
Katie Dorsey, Staff Reporter
Katie Dorsey has been on the Tattler for 2 years now as a News Writer. She plays B-CC Soccer and is excited for her senior year!

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