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Four-Day School Week

February 26, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary 

Enacted in 2009, Missouri statute (RSMo 160.011) states that a school term must consist of at least 1,044 hours of pupil attendance with no minimum requirement for the number of school days. Since 2009, the number of school districts in Missouri with four-day school weeks (4DSWs) has increased yearly. Rationale to adopt a 4DSW includes reducing school expenditures and improving hiring and retention of teachers. Primary considerations include how a 4DSW affects student academic achievement, working parents of young school-age children, juvenile crime, and wrap-around services of schools (e.g., free and reduced price lunch programs and student counseling).  

Highlights 

  • Nationwide, over 1600 schools in 24 states have adopted a 4DSW which is a 600% increase since 1999.
  •  In the 2020-21 school year, there were 102 4DSW school districts, which is approximately 20% of total school districts in Missouri.
    • Most schools that have adopted 4DSW are in rural communities with higher rates of food insecurity and may be associated with increased rates of juvenile crime. 
  • Studies have found mixed effects of 4DSWs on certain aspects of student academic achievement such as reading and math scores.
  • Teacher recruitment increased by 4% for Missouri rural schools adopting a 4DSW as compared to rural schools with a standard 5-day school week.
  • Research indicates a decrease in general employment within districts adopting 4DSWs due to women leaving the workforce.

Limitations 

  • Analyzing the effects of 4DSWs is difficult because programs vary substantially in implementation.
  • The effectiveness of 4DSWs to recruit rural educators is unknown in the long-term and might decrease as more schools adopt the system.
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