Is a 4 Day School Week Good for Montana Schools and Kids?
I threw this question out on the radio last week at the tail end of our statewide show: what do you guys think about a 4 day school week in Montana? If you have that in your school, what works and what doesn't work?
We got some great feedback. Here is what Jasmin, a school teacher in Glendive, shared:
I am currently taking a couple years off to help my dad farm and to be a mom. Last year, Glendive went to a four day school week. I personally think it was a terrible idea. I have always advocated against it. As a teacher, we still went in part of the day on Fridays and the staff still does this year. I feel like Fridays without kids were “nice” for teachers, but the students are missing out on too much classroom time. We were hired to teach and we need to be teaching, five days a week. It’s our job. I understand that it is more hours of school in those 4 days, but I can’t teach two math lessons in one day. So to me, it was harder to cover content— which concerns me! I feel students are already behind from the shut down and it is a travesty to be giving them less class time. I know my opinion is in the minority, most people were excited about the four day week.
Our friend Josh Rath did a writeup for us last week where he noted that 175 schools in Montana, mostly in rural areas, have already been doing 4 day school weeks.
Josh also shared a copy of Dr. Tim Tharp's dissertation on this very topic. Tim joined us on the radio with his thoughts. He says the data that he compiled from standardized test scores from 2005-2012 show that student progress is diminished by a 4 day school week.
Dr. Tharp: It showed conclusively that after about that third year there's a significant drop off. I conclude that a lot of schools get really focused...we need to get through the curriculum, we need to make sure we get through and cover all the material, and they stay really focused for a period of time, and students are pretty resilient for a period of time. But then after about that third year or so, then you start to see the difference. And I don't ever say that a school should NOT go to a four day week, I just want to be able to let folks know- look, this is what the numbers show and you're gonna have to really work hard to make sure that that doesn't happen.
Are there places where a 4 day school week is successful?
Dr. Tharp: There are places where it is successful. Yes.But it takes a lot of focus and it takes a lot of discipline both with the staff and the students in order to pull it off. Otherwise all you do is end up- you're slipping back and then you end up you're just doing four days of work when you could have been doing five and that's where those slips happen.
Here's the full audio of our chat with Dr. Tharp:
LOOK: The most famous actress born the same year as you