Although the new schedule helps save money on transportation and food, the main appeal is that it can help teachers teach and students learn. Although empirical evidence doesn't exist to prove it, Homesdale's experience suggests that the five-day school week might not be right for every community.
Homesdale teachers say the new schedule, which includes longer class periods, allows for more in-depth instruction including more time to read complete stories, include videos and Skype with professionals about the subject matter. Christine Ketterling, a second-grade teacher at Homedale Elementary, said, "I'm not doing anything different, so the only thing I can think of is the four-day week."
The extra day is good for teachers as well. In some areas, teachers have that day to relax and prepare lesson plans. In others, that day is reserved for professional development for the exchange of teaching strategies. The four-day week is also helpful for retaining teachers. "Ketterling says Homedale's four-day week schedule is a 'huge incentive' for her to stay there although she could earn a higher salary elsewhere," Cummings writes.
Some are concerned the new schedule could have negative effects. While teachers may originally work on Fridays, they may eventually stop if districts don't require it, said Paul Hill, who chairs the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho and is drafting a paper about the benefits and risks of the four-day week. Some low-income in Kentucky switched back to the five-day week when test scores dropped, and some students were not receiving the meals they would during the traditional schedule. Concerns also arose about a lack of activities for students on Fridays. (Read more)