Four-day school week has merit

A new four-day school week model takes effect this year in the Cardinal district in Eldon,Iowa. 

The Cardinal district is one of four schools in Iowa to try this new model, dropping one day from their normal week.

A main reason is to attract new teachers and retain current ones. Offering a shorter work week, with an extra day for planning, it’s a great way to interest more people in taking the teaching position, especially during the current teaching crisis. There is no research that having less than five days will have any impact on students academically, but low teacher retention rates have been shown to have a negative effect, which is why the main purpose of the four-day week is to prevent teacher turnover. 

The Cardinal district dropped Mondays. According to the cardinal school district, Friday feels more like a day off, and any day in the middle of the week would interrupt the flow of classes during the week. Monday makes the most sense, as they see it as a day to prepare for the coming week as opposed to a day off at the end. It accounts for certain holidays that would otherwise result in a day off on Monday anyway, and it allows school activities to run on Fridays like normal. 

While there is no study to prove that more school can correlate with better academic performance, the length of each class has been extended to account for the day of class time that is lost, and the overall length of every day has been extended by around an hour. The duration of the school year will not be changed, as Cardinal High School still plans to end before June 1.

Despite the fact that the majority of the reasons for making the school week four days long revolved around teachers, this does not necessarily mean that it will not have a positive effect on the students at Cardinal High School; however, student morale has shown an increase ever since the change was implemented, and student absenteeism has lowered. And while the actual change to the schedule will not have an academic impact, a more consistent teaching staff can help maximize student effectiveness. 

Mr. Andrew Lehn, the principal of Cardinal High School, has played a big role during the adjustment period, helping teachers shift the pace of their lessons from the 180-day to 150-day schedule, ever since the change was first implemented. “It will be hard for me to ever work in a district that doesn’t have a four day work week,” Lehn said. 

While it was not at the forefront of the discussion, the four-day work week will have an impact on cost, primarily on fuel, food and substitute teacher costs. Saving money is not the number one goal, but more of a side effect of spending one less day in the building.

At the end of the day, there has been no conclusive study that has shown that either a four-day or five-day week is better, but a four-day week does put forth a list of advantages, from cost effectiveness to teacher retention, and that it is a worthwhile option for every school in the state to consider.

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