The Future of Education; 4 Day Week, Year Long School Model

Sidney Tranel 25′ addresses the new proposed school model introduced by the superintendent, and the benefits and disadvantages it may bring.

“I can’t even remember how to write!” This is a common phrase I hear students say, the first week back to school. Most times they are just making a joke about readjusting into things after the long summer but what are the chances that they’re not exactly wrong? One of the biggest problems occurring from summer break is the loss of education from the lack of learning. Kids lose anywhere from 20-27% of learning in math and reading during summer. The ICCSD School Board proposed the idea of a new calendar schedule, 4 day school week, year round school model, on March 9. This could fix not only the summer education loss  problem, but many others including increased student attendance, more energy and sleep, and saving money. Even considering the disadvantages like the question of what to do about childcare and the possible slowed progression in students’ learning, this model would be an important advance for our education’s future. 

 

The 4 day school week has been gaining popularity in Iowa, in recent years. On March 2, Superintendent Matt Degner discussed the idea of a four day week, year round school year calendar with the school board. What this would entail is that schools would generally run Monday through Thursday, and would include extended breaks throughout the school year and a few weeks off in summer. A big problem from having so much time off in the summer is the loss of education and learning skills. This is generally known as the “summer slide.” On Fridays, the non-school day could be used for extracurriculars and academic interventions which would also allow students not to miss school for sports or other activities. Other benefits of this proposed model would be an increase in students’ attendance and more flexibility for teachers, along with saving money and allowing students more sleep and more energy because of that. 

 

I think this model would be a great idea for our community. A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed the results that parents and students both favored the four day model above the five day. One of the reasons this model would benefit me and my peers so much is the extra time it provides. More sleep and more time to re-energize and catch up would be immensely beneficial. Another important thing this model provides is reducing the loss of education over summer break. Don’t get me wrong, I love having three months of no school but the consequences show when I come back from summer and step foot into the classroom and can’t recall a single thing I learned the year before. When talking to special education teacher; Matthew Rice about this model, he agrees about the benefits. “Hopefully allows them to continue to work on things extending deeper into the year and continuing to further their skills while maintaining the skill that they are currently at, without a huge dip in abilities,” Rice said. Something else to think about is that the increased summer break was originally created for kids to help their parents with the summer crops. This means, the original reason for the three month summer break is hardly relevant to our society anymore. 

It would be an opportunity then to go to school basically year round and hopefully not have that summer slide- dip in skills and they will continue to progress. ”

— Matthew Rice, Special Education Teacher

Even with all the positives the four day, year round school would include, I can’t deny some of the factors that can be argued against it. A few of the major concerns faced with this model is students losing achievement and how it would accommodate working parents who need their kids in a form of childcare. Numerous studies have shown that a few years after a district turned to a 4-day week schedule, districts saw a slow in students’ learning progression. Especially for low income students, it takes about 4 years for these students to catch up with their peers. Childcare would also be a significant issue. Most parents would still need to work 5 days a week which would lead to the questions of what to do with their kids on Fridays. Paying for childcare would add to outside costs that wouldn’t be a factor with the 5 day model. Another issue to address is the possibility of an increase in crime. In Colorado, there was a 73% increase in juvenile crime when switching to the 4 days vs the 5 day. It’s also true that many other factors go into play with the increase and crime so this may not even be a problem in our school district. Having 4 days of school also makes it harder to miss school. “As soon as you’re absent one of those days of the week now you’re missing, you know 25%-50% of your entire school week,” Rice, Special education teacher said. 

 

This model isn’t perfect and it’s still being studied and developed but what we know is the many positive outcomes it will provide to students. It will help to improve the loss of education over summer, allow students for sleep and time to re-energize, better attendance and more flexibility and recruitment options for teachers. Taking all of this into consideration, having this 4-day week, year round schedule is the best solution to benefiting our school community as a whole.