The five-day school week has been the standard for education for as long as students can remember. Although, many schools such as Dime Box ISD are adopting the new standard of four-day school weeks. The district should implement a four day school week to benefit the mental health of students and staff, alleviate financial stress on the district and improve academic performance.
Offering students a shorter school week reduces students’ and teachers’ stress. This gives them more time to complete homework assignments, spend time with family, friends and recharge. According to the CDC, roughly 4.4 million kids from age 3-17 have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression. Many teens find that academic pressure contributes to their stress and poor mental health. By giving students lengthened weekends and time away from school, this academic pressure can be lifted. Additionally, a number of teachers in the district have over 100 students to not only teach, but grade minor and major projects for. Shortening the school week gives teachers more time to grade and plan lessons, along with giving them more down time.
Some schools are considering this option because of the considerable financial benefits. By shortening the average school week from five to four days, schools can save four day’s with of money on heating, air conditioning and bussing fees each month. By reducing the school week by 20%, roughly 20% of costs will be saved. While the district searches for alleviating financial decisions, cutting costs from a day each week could be advantageous.
In addition to better student mental health and financial benefits, the shorter school week can improve academic performance. In 2015, a study completed by Georgia State and Montana State University found neutral to positive effects of a shorter week. School districts in California that have adopted the four day school week have recorded an increase in attendance and test scores, especially in mathematics. By giving students an extra day to study and complete homework assignments, their academic performance will increase.
Many school weeks are already shortened with the abundance of national and student holidays. October and January contain three scheduled shortened weeks with the current academic calendar. If the district strategically redistributes the remaining break days, they could successfully implement a four day week for future academic years. This alternative schedule is not flawless, especially for students with troubling home lives; however, with implementations of school support programs for students, a four day week is an excellent solution to financial and mental health challenges the high school faces.