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What a Difference a Day Makes

Updated April 21, 2022
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What a Difference a Day Makes essay

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As society progresses, the daily lives of Americans are more probable, especially in the area of education. In today’s educational system, schools are debating whether students benefit from a shorter week. Countries all around the world have publicized the pros and cons to the four day school week versus the traditional schooling. School finance expert Michael Griffith stated that he once held a neutral opinion about four day school weeks. In today’s society, at least 120 school districts have adopted the four day school week and more are on the fence about making the switch over. Schools should unquestionably denounce making the switch to a four day school week over the traditional five day school week.

The history of four day school weeks is well known across the country. The four-day school week concept is hardly new in the United States. The four day week was used during many events in American history including the Great Depression in the 1930’s (Donis; Silvernail 2009) and the Arab oil restriction in 1973 (Cumming 2015). The US gave an interest in reducing the number of days because of transportation and the heating system. As a result of a budget crisis in 2009, Hawaii executed seventeen required “Furlough Fridays” for the state public schools (Herring 2010). There are many reasons why the modern education system should not implement the four day school week and stay with the traditional schedule.

To begin, taking a day out of the traditional school week will result in a decrease in the school’s academic rates. After several tests, results have proved that the students academic level diminishes. “For the nation’s 17 year-olds, there has been no literary progress. Performance is somewhat better in math, however, there is still no progress” (Forgione 3). In the last 35 years, the US has put a lot of effort into education, with little to show for it. The result is a society with less economic growth. Another effect of a four day school week is the drastic decrease in test scores. From the year 2015-2017, the test scores have decreased astronomically. In 2018 the US students have declined in average math scores, ranking below 36 other countries (Barshay). There have been no signs of improvement in science or reading. “Mathematics remains the subject that the U.S. is far worst in, comparatively, and our students continue to score below the average,” Peggy G. Carr acting commissioner of National Center for Education Statistics declares. Another issue with today’s school system is that the average student already struggles with attention spans and retaining what they have learned. Having an extra day off can affect educational momentum. Some teachers argue that students have a tendency to forget what they have learned over the long weekend instead of retaining the information for the following week. While some students can shift from the traditional four day school week, others are not as able to adapt to the changes and appreciate the benefits. Some are not able to learn differently and find it difficult to focus on their study for such long periods (Long). Many have pointed out that children who have difficulties may not be able to get the most out of the four day school week. Several children are self-motivated however for those who are not, have lessened focus, which can cause a decrease in grades. A survey was conducted and found that 10 percent of students are disengaged and discourages (Brenneman). Engagement levels show a consistent decrease up until 11th grade. The survey’s findings are based on more than 900,000 students in high schools across the United States (Brenneman).

As a result of the four day school week, the class time is extended and the school year expands further into the year. Since the average school day is extended, the extracurricular activities are affected. Switching to a four day school week increases the length of the average school day from 8 hours to 9 plus hours. Many schools add thirty minutes to the beginning and end of the day. This extra hour can lead to a loss of focus and less time in the evening to participate in extracurricular activities. With extracurricular activities are a big part of the high school education, traveling can be a challenge without the extra day on the traditional 5 day school week. Students who are involved in these activities and school are missing academic opportunities and are set back. For the students involved in extracurricular activities, they may find it hard to balance between school work, sports, clubs, and work. The extra hour in the average day is needed for students to work on homework and get their rest needed at the same time. Another point to be discussed is the quality of time spent with family. The information received from the students showed that the time with family provided both positive and negative outcomes. Another study proposes that students working long hours had a lower engagement in school (Lerman 2000). 60 percent of students were found invested in school sports, clubs, and homework on their day off instead of quality time with family. The biggest issue faced is the personal time on their day off. Statistics have shown that young adolescents take the extra day and get caught up in bad things. Adolescents from all communities are exposed to underage tobacco use, underage drinking, testing and abusing substances, and behavior that is harmful to their health. The countless statistics (Dunn et al, 2008; Pruitt, 2009; Spoth, Goldberg, Neppl, Trudeau, & Ramisetty-Miler, 2001; Williams, Barnes, Holman, & Hunt, 2014) show that rural adolescents are more likely than any other adolescent to use a substance. There is still uncertainty that if adding an extra day per week of unsupervised time to an adolescent’s schedule could promote such behavior (Amy’s 95).

Moving on, wages is another issue. The costs of a four day school week will put a strain on parents and schools. For example, parents will have to pay someone to take care of their child on the extra day off while they are at work. With an extra day off of school, parents will be at work and will need someone to watch their children, including extra money to pay a daycare or a babysitter. Some families struggle with the cost and need the extra day for their children so they do not have to pay someone. One family stated that they paid more than $1,500 in child care because of their districts four day week (Picchi). Another fact to a four day school week is that teachers still have to be paid for that extra day. Even though teachers and staff are working fewer days, they still put in the same hours in which they get the same salary. Some schools across the nation are looking at lowering the teachers pay. As a result of the cuts, teachers are questioning the four day school week. Some schools have teacher in-service days on the day the students get off; teachers can plan for their class, have meetings and attend school workshops. However, the concern that still stands is paying teachers for that extra day. Taking the day out of the traditional schedule results in many people including janitors, cooks and some maintenance people to have their pay cut. Much of the school’s staff is becoming unemployed because of the cuts in their pay. Another edition that schools face is the cost of textbooks and supplies. Schools will not save on textbooks. The cost of textbooks is still the same just used in fewer days. In an average school year, schools spend a thousand plus dollars on textbooks and supplies combine. As a result of the additional day off, there was no sign of improvement in the cost of textbooks and supplies. “The savings are fairly minimal,” school finance Michael Griffith stated.

On the contrary, many students, parents, and staff feel that the four day school week will allow for more rest and allow more time to get homework and studies completed. This statement is not entirely incorrect; if the student is responsible they will get their work done and will study for any upcoming tests. However, what the opposition fails to recognize is that some students do not do their work, get caught up in bad things, and many students have part-time jobs. If they have an extra day off, they will take that time to work, and some will spend the day playing video games. Most kids may spend the extra day staying up late and will not get their mandatory 8 hours of rest. With a three-day weekend approaching, some families will plan a vacation and take the time to spend with family and friends. This prohibits the idea of working of school work and studying for tests. This causes the student to not be organized and set priorities. What the viewer fails to see that the traditional schooling over the four day school week has the same benefits as a four day school week. The traditional schooling offers the same amount of information and the same amount of education in an extended period of time.

To conclude, the area of education is growing to new levels. Many schools are disputing over the idea of making the switch to a four day school week. There are many advantages and disadvantages to the changeover. However, many schools are researching the possible effects and making the final decision. “I used to feel neutral, but after talking to adults at the school districts, I have come out against it because they’re doing it for themselves,” Griffith said. “It’s done for the benefit of the adults and the school, and not the kids.” A wise man, Francis Bacon once quoted “Knowledge is power.” Many well-educated students can change the world, which is why students should attend five days opposed to four. “Our children are the only hope for the future, but we are the only hope for their present and their future.” Without proper education, how can they possibly succeed in the future?

  1. Works Cited
  2. ERIC – Search Results, eric.ed.gov/?q=cons+to+a+4+day+school+week&pr=on.
  3. Anderson, D. Mark, and Marybeth Beth Walker. “Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2012, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2008999.
  4. Anderson, D. Mark, and Marybeth Beth Walker. “Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2012, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2008999.
  5. Anderson, D. Mark, and Mary Beth Walker. “Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week.” Education Finance and Policy, vol. 10, no. 3, 2015, pp. 314–349., doi:10.1162/edfp_a_00165.
  6. Anderson, Marie. “The Negative Effects of Extending School Days.” What Students Learn From Dissecting a Cow’s Eye | Education – Seattle PI, 29 Sept. 2016, education.seattlepi.com/negative-effects-extending-school-days-1755.html.
  7. Brenneman, Ross. “Gallup Student Poll Finds Engagement in School Dropping by Grade Level.” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 20 June 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/03/23/gallup-student-poll-finds-engagement-in-school.html.
  8. Brenneman, Ross. “Gallup Student Poll Finds Engagement in School Dropping by Grade Level.” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 20 June 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/03/23/gallup-student-poll-finds-engagement-in-school.html.
  9. Fischer, Stefanie, and Daniel Argyle. “Juvenile Crime and the Four-Day School Week.” Economics of Education Review, vol. 64, 2018, pp. 31–39., doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.03.010.
  10. “Four Day Work Week Prompt – English 10 Survival Site.” Google Sites, sites.google.com/a/ccpsnet.net/english-10-survival-site/home/essay-prompt-pages/real-world-based-writing-prompts/four-day-work-week-prompt.
  11. Greengarageblog Admin. “10 Main Pros and Cons of 4 Day School Weeks.” Green Garage, 14 Jan. 2017, greengarageblog.org/10-main-pros-and-cons-of-4-day-school-weeks.
  12. Harrington, Theresa. “U.S. Math Scores Decline on International Test of 15-Year-Olds.” EdSource, edsource.org/2016/u-s-math-scores-decline-on-international-test-of-15-year-olds/573768.
  13. “High School Test Scores Haven’t Improved for 40 Years; Top Students Stagnating.” Education By The Numbers, 27 June 2013, educationbythenumbers.org/content/high-school-test-scores-havent-improved-for-40-years-top-students-stagnating_251/.
  14. Hill, Paul. “Beware the Four-Day School-Week Trap.” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 20 June 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/07/19/beware-the-four-day-school-week-trap.html.
  15. Lake, Rebecca. “4 Day School Week Statistics: Pros and Cons Debate.” CreditDonkey, www.creditdonkey.com/4-day-school-week-statistics.html.
  16. MacMillan, Amanda. “Teens May Do Better When School Starts Later.” Time, Time, 17 Apr. 2017, time.com/4741147/school-start-time/.
  17. Rothwell, Jonathan. “The Declining Productivity of Education.” Brookings, Brookings, 23 Dec. 2016, www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2016/12/23/the-declining-productivity-of-education/.
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