Schools that Switched to a Four-Day Week Saw Learning Reductions. What Does that Mean for the Pandemic's Lost Instructional Time?
May 5, 2021
K-12 schools that cut instructional time by switching to a four-day week see meaningful reductions in student learning, according to recently published research. The effects are similar to those resulting from other common approaches to cost reduction, such as increasing class sizes, and the negative academic effects may intensify with the passage of time, the author finds.
The trend toward closing schools for one day each week — or at least replacing academic programming during a fifth day with enrichment, field trips, or professional development for teachers — was spreading quickly before the arrival of COVID-19. But the pandemic’s effects, including significant drops in test scores, also point to the damage wrought by lost hours in the classroom.
The study, originally published in January and featured today in the journal Education Next, looks at the academic outcomes of nearly 700,000 Oregon students between the 2004-05 and 2018-19 school years. The total number of schools in the state using a four-day week fluctuated from a low of 108 to a high of 156 during that period, with a large surge in adoption during the budget crunch that followed the Great Recession.