The rise of the four-day school week

Today in ‘news that our child-selves would have celebrated but makes our grown-up selves feel a little uneasy’: Four-day school weeks are on the rise. 

Driving the news: Four-day school weeks have become increasingly popular in the US, with 850 school districts adopting a shortened week for this academic year, 200 more than in 2021. It started as a trend in small, rural districts but is now spreading to larger communities

  • Four-day school weeks were initially implemented to cut costs, but districts are now using them to recruit and retain teachers amid a nationwide shortage of educators. 

Big picture: While more research is needed, early studies into a shortened school week have yielded troubling results. One study from a leading four-day school week researcher found "reductions in both math and English/language arts achievement" in four-day districts. 

  • An extra day off also puts working parents in a bind as they scramble to find someone to look after their kids — and many can’t afford the extra childcare.

Why it matters: Canadian schools face many of the same problems, including a rampant teacher shortage that has left some schools to hire uncertified educators. Instead of making up for below-average teacher salaries, a four-day school week could be a tempting option. 

  • Earlier this year, an Ottawa Catholic school board put forward a plan to enact a four-day week in two of its schools but was denied by the Ministry of Education.  

Bottom line: Children are, quite literally, our future. It’s in all of our best interests that school systems aren’t leaving them at a disadvantage.—QH