Some Oklahoma teachers say a shorter work week makes up for low pay
- With Oklahoma teachers considering a strike for early April, interest in how some teachers have responded to having a four-day work week — a measure some districts took to make up for low salaries — is increasing, according to CBS News.
- One teacher in the Bridge Creek Public Schools said in the article that she appreciates having additional time with her family, but that also the policy has made her a better teacher and more purposeful about how she uses her time in the classroom.
- Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, however, says she’s concerned about the long-term impact on student achievement, and that longer school days don’t necessarily make up for more days of school.
Districts typically cut back to four-day weeks to save money on expenses, such as transportation, energy and hourly employees. But in some cases, the reduced schedule also helps districts’ efforts to recruit teachers. One of the most recent studies on the practice, from Georgia State University and Montana State University, finds that math scores among students who follow a four-day week actually improve, while performance in reading remains stable.
The researchers suggest that teachers might be so enthusiastic about a four-day week that they are more engaged in their teaching. They also say that the reduced schedule might be reducing absenteeism among students. The research, however, focused on small and more rural districts and might not apply to larger, urban systems.
In a commentary last year, Paul Hill, founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, warned against jumping on the four-day “bandwagon,” in spite of how popular it might be with teachers. Longer days might be hard on younger students or students with special needs, and families might struggle to find child-care arrangements.
In October, CRPE released a “user’s guide” for districts implementing or considering four-day school weeks. The guide offers questions leaders should ask if they are discussing whether a shortened week is the right decision as well as the type of data to collect to determine if implementing a four-day week was the right move.
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