A new study says four-day school weeks are not improving or hurting student achievement and school building growth in Missouri.
During Tuesday’s Missouri Board of Education meeting, Amanda Weissman, Research Statistician Developer, and Jennifer Sabourin, Senior Policy Lead with the SAS Institute, presented the findings.
Weissman said 16 states have researched the impacts of four-day school weeks.
“This was in line with the research, if you remember, half the previous research from other states found no effect. So, Missouri’s in line with that half of the research,” she said.
The state has allowed districts to move to a shortened week since 2011. About 170 Missouri public school districts are holding classes four days a week.
The shortened weeks have been used as a tool to recruit and retain teachers. The study did not cover whether the four-day school weeks is helping with this effort.
In addition, it did not include the impact four-day school weeks have on student attendance, graduation rates, discipline rates, and student retention.
For student achievement, the study used standardized and end-of-course tests for third grade through high school in math, Science, and English. Building growth was measured based on math and English scores in grades 3-8. The data used was from 2011-2022.
Missouri Board of Education President Charlie Shields said lawmakers put the four-day school week option in place.
“It will be the policy makers who have to review it, and they are. But I think the question at the end of the day that we can say and they need to understand is it doesn’t move us forward. It just keeps us level set. Our goal should not be just level set,” said Shields.
School districts operating on the shortened weeks must still meet the same number of instruction hours as schools holding classes five days a week.
State Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven responded to the study.
“I think today’s results are pretty standard with what we’ve seen in prior research in other states – that it’s had minimal impact on academic performance. And so, that’s a good thing. Right? Instructional hours have been maintained and I’m glad to see that part of it. However, as you heard President Shields point out, we’re at a time right now when we’re really trying to advance opportunities for students. So, what I’d still love to talk about is how do we provide more instructional time for students. How do we see how are we finding interventions that are actually improving outcomes for students,” she asked.
Vandeven also questioned what the fifth day looks like for students who are not in school.
She said fewer than 10 school districts have adopted four-day school weeks and then reverted back to operating five days a week.
To view the study data provided, click here.
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