An Alternate instructional week
The subject line is kind of “code” for a 4 day school week. There will be considerable consultation and meetings have been held with the CDTA and CUPE, order and will be held with the community and PACs as well. There are a lot of models out there to choose from and picking one, melanoma or none, will require review of them all.
This is my first presentation of information on the subject. I will be trying to present as broad a based range of opinions as possible. Ultimately, you, your family, PAC members and friends will have to digest it all and see how it fits with your family.
This is a long post, my apologies for that, but there is just so much information out there. You may want to Google the topic as well.
An alternate instructional school week:
What does this mean? Will we have it starting in September? Why would the board even consider going in that direction? What will it do for students? Teachers? Parents? The community?
This email is the first in a series I will be sending out to people in the community – some pros, some cons. There are many points of view and I’ll try to have them all here some place.
I hope to have a special section on the SD 71 web site devoted to the topic, as we had for the Long Range Facility Plan. Look for it and let the trustees know, individually, what you think.
see also: Feb 12 Echo article, here
Hi Clifford, (from the BCTF research staff)
The move to a four-day school week is seen primarily as a cost saving measure, with fewer hours allocated to employees like Education Assistants, and transportation savings from one less day of busing per week.
Some districts making the switch suggest that cost factors are not the only reason to introduce a four-day week. However, there is little evidence that a four-day school week either improves or compromises student academic achievement.
A strong cause-effect relationship between the length of the school week and student performance has not been proven in the research, although some studies have suggested that when schools make the change from a five to a four-day week, achievement levels are typically maintained, and/or there is a very slight increase.
Other studies claim that along with the implementation of a four-day week comes reduced absenteeism (by both students and teachers), and improved student behaviour. There is some concern that the longer school day might make it more difficult for students (especially the younger children) to focus. Additionally, there is concern that the four-day week is “not appropriate for at-risk students and for students with special needs, who may struggle to retain academic information with one less day of reinforcement in school.” (Plucker et al, 2009).
This very recent study indicates a positive relationship between the four-day week and performance in reading and math for elementary students (grades four and five):
· Anderson, D.M., & Walker, M.B. (2015). Does shortening the school week impact student performance? Evidence from the four-day school week. Education, Finance and Policy, 10(3), 314-349.
School districts use a variety of policies to close budget gaps and stave off teacher layoffs and furloughs. More schools are implementing four-day school weeks to reduce overhead and transportation costs. The four-day week requires substantial schedule changes as schools must increase the length of their school day to meet minimum instructional hour requirements. Although some schools have indicated this policy eases financial pressures, it is unknown whether there is an impact on student outcomes. We use school-level data from Colorado to investigate the relationship between the four-day week and academic performance among elementary school students. Our results generally indicate a positive relationship between the four-day week and performance in reading and mathematics. These findings suggest there is little evidence that moving to a four-day week compromises student academic achievement.
It is important to note, however, that the authors state the following limitations of the study:
Lastly, a key issue for consideration is whether our results generalize to larger and more urban districts. Our empirical results are limited to impacts for smaller and more rural districts—a wider adoption of the policy across more densely populated areas would be required to allow for a broader understanding of the effects. A further caveat is that the policy has been adopted mostly in less affluent school districts. There has been some discussion that the four-day school week would not work as well in urban areas because of issues concerning the increased demand for child care, special needs students, and delinquency. (p342)
This article outlines the positive experience of a rural school district who made the switch:
· Yarbrough, R., & Gilman, D.A. (2006). From Five Days to Four. Educational Leadership, 64(2), 80-85.
And here are some articles leaning toward the ‘con’ side of the argument, though they are fairly balanced in their discussion :
· Hewitt, Paul M.; Denny, George S. (2011). The Four-Day School Week: Impact on Student Academic Performance. Rural Educator, 32(2), p23-31.
(From the introduction):
Although the four-day school week originated in 1936, it was not widely implemented until 1973 when there was a need to conserve energy and reduce operating costs. This study investigated how achievement tests scores of schools with a four-day school week compared with schools with a traditional five-day school week. The study focused on student performance in Colorado where 62 school districts operated a four-day school week. The results of the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) were utilized to examine student performance in reading, writing, and mathematics in grades 3 through 10. While the mean test scores for five-day week schools exceeded those of four-day week schools in 11 of the 12 test comparisons, the differences were slight, with only one area revealing a statistically significant difference. This study concludes that decisions to change to the four-day week should be for reasons other than student academic performance.
The four-day week is the preferred calendar of many small rural districts scattered across the country. These districts mostly boast widespread public support, no or positive impact on academic performance, and some financial savings. Savings, however, must be weighed against an increased length of the school day, childcare needs on the off day, and professional development needs to help teachers adapt to an alternative schedule. Thus, it is important for any school district considering changing to a four-day school week to weigh the costs and benefits of such a decision.
· Donis-Keller, C., & Silvernail, D.L. (2009). Research Brief: A Review of the Evidence on the Four-Day School Week. Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation, University of Southern Maine.
The four-day school week has been proposed as one solution to address budget shortfalls. … Proponents argue that reducing the number of days students attend classes may yield savings in transportation, facilities, and personnel costs. …
This research brief provides a history of the reform and presents a synthesis of the research base, albeit limited, focused on the implementation and impact of moving to a four-day school week schedule. Also included is a discussion of the most commonly voiced concerns. …
It is important to note that while there is considerable anecdotal information about the potential benefits of four-day school weeks, there is limited systematic research on the impacts of this reform.
· Plucker, J.A., Cierniak, K., & Chamberlin, M. (2009). The four-day school week: Nine years later. (2009). Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, 10(6), 1-8.
Concerns related to switching to a four-day schedule include arranging childcare on the fifth day, potential negative impact for at-risk students, and decreased wages for cafeteria workers and bus drivers. Additionally, many districts have not experienced the savings originally anticipated. Rather, districts have saved between .4 to 2.5% of their budget by switching to a four-day week. There is no conclusive evidence regarding the impact of the four-day week on student achievement, other than that it appears to have no detrimental effects.
Finally, below are a few articles/documents from BC school districts where the four-day school week has been proposed or is currently in place. You’ll notice that Okanagan-Similkameen is presently considering this option as an alternative to school closures.
· Boundary (SD51)
The District continues to face the challenges associated with declining enrolment due to a weak primary industry based economy. The fiscal reality facing the District has been how to keep small rural schools open with a full range of programs and services. During the 2002-2003 school year, the District moved to an altered calendar as well as the four-day school week to save costs. The adoption of the Four Day Week has permitted the District to move from a deficit to a surplus situation and this has allowed the District to fund programs targeted to early literacy and student achievement.
· Coast Mountain (SD82)
Plourde, F. (2007). And On the Fifth Day, They Rested: B.C. district rebels against four-day school week. The Tyee.
For a while, the shortened school week did the job. The savings –- around three to five per cent of district’s budget per year –- prevented the closure of some schools. But even though they faced a potential $4.4 million deficit for the next year, the district has decided the savings aren’t worth the costs.
….Coast Mountains is neither the first nor the last district to thinker with a four-day school week. In B.C., the system was first implemented in the Boundary district, in the south central part of the province, after the government changed regulations governing the school year. Under the new rules, the year is measured in hours, rather than days.
A report released last month, five years after the implementation of the four-day week, in Boundary shows they have had a more positive experience than has Coast Mountains.
“We heard that the four-day school week is working well for our communities,” writes Teresa Rezansoff, chair of the board of trustees. “We learned that some concerns that were voiced five years ago are now seen as strengths, such as long weekends, and extra time away from the school desks.”
· Kamloops/Thompson (SD73)
The Four day School Week was considered by the School District as part of the Operating Budget discussions during the spring of 2003. The positive and negative aspects were considered by the Board at that time and it was determined that the Four
Day Week was not suitable for the Kamloops/Thompson School District. Some major determining factors in the 2003 discussions were that moving to a Four Day Week could save significant amounts of money and reduce student and staff absenteeism but the major savings would have to be attained by reducing the hours of support staff. It was also determined that a Four Day Week would add 75 additional minutes to each school day. There was no conclusive evidence of the impact on student learning and there was also considerable concern expressed about increased costs of child care.
[Also see: Review of the Four-Day School Week, Conducted by the Board of Trustees of School District #51, April 10, 2007. 39pp.
· Okanagan-Similkameen (SD53)
Stuckey, A. Four-day week a potential school budget benefit. Osoyoos Daily News, January 27, 2016.
One parent-suggested pitch for achieving long-term financial savings at South Okanagan-Similkameen schools in the wake of proposed school closures is a transition to a four-day school week.
The idea was discussed at Parent Advisory Committee meetings in Osoyoos January 25. The concept will likely be presented for SD53 Board consideration February 9.
As the name suggests, students would attend school four days a week, likely Monday through Thursday, and have a three-day weekend. On days students are in class, the morning bell would ring a little earlier and students would stay in school a few minutes longer each afternoon. Lunch and recess periods might also be reduced.
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BC Teachers’ Federation
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