The switch to four-day school weeks in Missouri is up for discussion again today. This time, in northwest Missouri’s St. Joseph, where the school board overseeing more than 10,400 students will decide whether to move to a shortened school week.

It’s a controversial issue that divides school board members there. Member Whitney Lanning has been impressed by the effect a four-day school week has had on the Independence School District.

“They saw a 60% reduction in behaviors from their students,” she told KFEQ Radio in St. Joseph. “They’ve seen improved retention of the staff that they have. They saw improved attendance from students, especially their low-income students.”

Lanning said studies so far indicate a four-day school week makes no difference for student academic scores.

“So, to me, if there’s no positive or negative effect to students, we have to figure out how we keep staff,” Lanning said.

The state of Missouri has rolled out the findings of a study that says four-day school weeks are not helping or harming Missouri student achievement and school building growth. The study used standardized and end-of-course tests scores in math, Science, and English from 2011 to 2022.

Less impressed with those Independence School District numbers is school board member Isaura Garcia.

“My only concern with that is that we’re not allowing them (Independence School District) a whole year to finish that process for us to be able to see has it actually been successful,” she told KFEQ in St. Joseph.

Garcia wants the administration to explore other options.

“Really looking at other ways to compensate our teachers and provide more support without flipping the educational system on its head would be my recommendation,” said Garcia.

Missouri has about 170 school districts that have switched to a four-day school week. School districts operating on the shortened weeks must still meet the same number of instruction hours as schools holding classes five days a week.

By Brent Martin of KFEQ in St. Joseph