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Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

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Four Days Equal Better Days

Is the U.S. change of school days better for teachers and students?

For as long as we’ve been going to school, it’s been five days a week. So why is the U.S. deciding to have four school days a week? The change is being measured by Oregon State University associate professor Paul Thompson, who says, “States like Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri have seen the most recent transitions to four-day weeks.” Districts across the country are trying this new schedule that improves the lives of families, students, and teachers.

This topic isn’t new to Mr. Shaw. In an interview, he mentions that this was proposed to him, and he had a lot to think about because this is a drastic change that alters the lives of anyone who teaches or attends school and their families.

There are several benefits as a result of this change. Although not many schools in California have yet to implement the change, other states have and already see promising results.

Benefits

Most people would love to have less time in school learning or teaching, which could be possible because of the recent outcomes of this. The desire, however, comes not only from shorter weeks but also from benefits such as a safer environment, school spending, job satisfaction, etc.

Calendar with text day off. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A study published in the Journal of Educational Research and Policy Analysis revealed that shortened school schedules can lead to calmer and safer school environments. In Oklahoma, 411 districts have converted to a 4-day school schedule for some of their schools. Researchers discovered that Oklahoma high schools experienced less fighting and bullying among students after transitioning from a 5-day-a-week program to a 4-day plan. Also, by reducing the number of school days, they can save money on transportation, food, and energy costs.

This can be especially important for rural districts where students must travel long distances to get to school. Administrators recognize that the appeal of a shorter week could attract new staff, such as teachers, where there seems to be a shortage of recently; teachers already employed, however, could weigh their shoulders because of the immense amount of work constantly being brought to them for grading and corrections that they just can’t get done when they have to teach on top of that.

In Interviews with Santiago High School students and staff, I got a better perspective of how this would benefit them or the school.

How would a shorter school week affect teacher’s workload and job satisfaction?

Mr. Perez, “I think job satisfaction would go through the roof just because we are overworked; there are too many kids in a classroom – on average, I have 40 kids in a room. So, reducing the number of work days will create time – teachers will work on that off day anyway. I almost guarantee that I know I would; others yes, of course, they are not. I think the majority of us would use that day to catch up, plan, and find time to relax. I think the workload will be more evenly spread out because we have that 5th day off.”

Mr. Payne, “I think our job satisfaction would be going up. I mean, of course, you’re only working four days a week – that’s normal – and you’re getting paid an extra day, but also, I think that it would give us more time to grade work and to plan, which is usually what takes up a lot of time. I usually spend a lot of time grading and planning over the weekends, like Saturday and Sunday, or usually, I’m working on something anyway, so I would say that it would make our job a little bit easier; we can be more effective doing it.”

How do you think a shorter school week will impact your academic performance?

Fallyn B. (11), “Being a student-athlete, I think that having a shorter week would improve my focus, and since I drive down to San Diego for volleyball, having an extra day off would give me more to focus mainly on my classes, than being at the end of the week being all groggy and being lazy. It would decrease the chances of me getting burned out, not getting picked up early so I wouldn’t miss as much class time, and I would use that day to catch up.”

Tamille M. (11), “Honestly, I feel it would make it better because I get exhausted from practice as a student-athlete. I get home late, and then having an extra day would give me a day to do all my school work. Usually, when I get home, I get home at night, and then I also have to go to sleep to wake up early enough. So I feel like having another day would help me to refresh, rejuvenate, and work.”

What are the possible benefits?

Mr. Shaw said, “If the school district did four days a week, the school could save money on electricity, air conditioning, bussing, and transportation. Also, kids could work three days a week if they can only work their weekends. They could make more money to support their family.”

From the teacher’s input, it’s to see that time is their biggest enemy. It’s a race against the clock planning, grading, and teaching all aspects that are hard to complete within a weekend.

Consequences

Most good things inevitably have a wrong side to them. Many concerns are raised with only four days of in-school learning. Concerns that affect students and their families.

Furthermore, having a 4-day school week presents numerous negatives for students, teachers, and schools. Students lose the opportunity to interact face-to-face with their teachers, especially if questions need to be asked in person, which can lead to slower academic progress. Teachers may also have difficulty teaching the same amount of curriculum in such a short time, leading to rushed lessons and limited time for in-depth instruction.

Schools may also struggle to find the resources to provide quality education in such a short time, leading to a decrease in the quality of the educational experience or may lead to what Dr. Heron notes, “longer days.” Additionally, having a 4-day school week can make it more difficult for parents to find childcare on the 5th day, as Mr. Shaw mentions in his interview.

In the rest of the interviews, there’s reasonable uncertainty about having 4-day school weeks.

What are your main concerns about a 4-day school week?

Mr. Shaw, “Child care for parents and them having a place for their kids to be while at work during the week. Additionally, it’ll probably cause issues for athletics and after-school programs that need to meet five days a week; theoretically, it sounds like a good idea. Everyone loves a 3-day weekend, but logistically and practically, it’s not the best idea.”

As a teacher and a parent of a student who goes here, what do you think about this schedule change?

Mr. Sum, “It would be very beneficial for our family because we are all educators. However, I also see how it would be problematic for many working families and arranging care, especially for younger children. It would be more accommodating at the high school level, but for elementary, it would be difficult for many families.”

How would a shorter school week impact students’ academic performance?

Mr. Payne, “I think their academic performances would probably be 50/50. I think some students would excel because they already excel at doing work independently. Some students probably would struggle because doing the work on their own is not necessarily the best way to go about it when they don’t do it online, so I would say it would be beneficial to those who are already motivated, but probably not so beneficial to those who aren’t.”

Final Observation

Although many can hope for a shorter week, there is much to consider for such a significant change. Both sides are equally debatable and a choice that has to align with the community. In an article by ‘The Journalist Resource,’ they received word from an associate professor who is part of Oregon State’s Four-Day School Week policy research team.

“For journalists looking for a definitive answer to [the question] ‘Are four-day school weeks a good or bad thing?’, I would caution that it is still too early to tell,”

It’s interesting to see the shift towards a 4-day school week in some states like Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. The benefits, such as a safer environment and cost savings, are worth considering. Seeing how this change could positively or negatively impact students, teachers, and families is intriguing.

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About the Contributor
Juliet Chavez
Juliet Chavez, Staff Writer
Juliet Chavez (11) is a Junior at Santiago High School. Her favorite subjects are math and psychology. She loves to write about everything; her love for writing started in elementary school when she wrote in her journals single every day. Her love for writing extended when she entered Honors Language Arts. She got to annotate, read, and write about different passages. Juliet loves to watch films and reads books, the knowledge she adapts she puts into her script, which one day she hopes to turn into a film. When she’s not busy writing, she works on her jewelry business, Sunnysidejewelryshop. She started her business in 2021 and has gained over 20k followers on TikTok! Juliet hopes to make movies like her role models, Greta Gerwig, and Luca Guadagnino. She wants to make people feel included and help them express themselves in her own creative way. She thinks her writing now will play a big part in her future and inspire her stories. You may reach her at [email protected]
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