- School districts in 21 states are now operating on a four-day school week, but a recent study of the effects of the plan on juvenile crime indicates that property crimes, in particular, tend to increase roughly 20% in some areas where the school week is shortened, Chalkbeat reports.
- The study, which was published in the Economics of Education Review, concludes that youth who are supervised in school settings are less likely to commit crime.
- Other aspects of the four-day school week are more positive as the approach tends to save on costs, improve teacher retention, and, in some cases, improve test scores, but the effects on crime and student hunger need to be factored in before school districts make choices based solely on the need to trim the budget, the article says.
The four-day school week is growing in popularity across the nation. For example, in Colorado, where the crime study was conducted, there were 39 four-day schools in the 2000-01 school year, but by the 2017-18 school year that number had more than doubled to 98 schools. In addition, the four-day school week, which was primarily a rural phenomenon, is now being implemented in urban areas, where bus travel is less of a factor.
One reason the idea is gaining popularity is that many school districts are receiving positive feedback for the idea. Teachers' satisfaction seems to improve under the approach, which in turn helps districts that are struggling to recruit or retain teachers. And though the results seem mixed, the method does seem to improve students' math scores, in some schools, perhaps due to longer class sessions at the high school level.
The practice, however, does complicate child-care arrangements for some parents and leaves students with more unsupervised time on their hands, which seems to lead to higher crime rates in some areas. Schools also face the issue of student hunger on those days, though that issue could be addressed by sending food home with students, as some schools now do on weekends.
Most school districts choose the option of a four-day school week because of budget cuts. Though the choice to operate on this schedule clearly has its pros and cons, this decision is one that will affect the lives of students, parents, and members of the community in multiple ways.