A 4-day school week? Some Texas districts are trying it

Education

(NewsNation) — As schools have more problems recruiting teachers, some rural districts in Texas are looking at moving to a four-day week.

The Texas Tribune reports that the Mineral Wells Independent School District, about 50 miles outside Fort Worth, voted to make the switch to a four-day school week starting in the 2022-2023 school year.

Their superintendent told the news outlet that a number of their educators had multiple offers to teach in neighboring districts that already had employees working a shorter week. And this move, according to the Texas Tribune, is becoming more and more popular in states like Texas and Missouri.

Dan Robinson, associate dean at the University of Texas, Arlington’s School of Education, said there hasn’t been conclusive research on how well a shorter week works.

But there are studies out there, he added, that suggest students learn best when they can space out their learning.

“We know about summer loss when students take three months over the summer,” he said. “So cramming five days worth of instruction into four days might not be optimal in terms of student learning.”

Texas state Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a Republican, said while it’s still yet to be seen how this will affect students and teachers, a 4-day workweek is an “interesting concept.”

Schools in VanDeaver’s area have been taking public input at meetings, and researching the idea with local communities. Some offered child care on Fridays, so parents wouldn’t have to scramble, the representative said.

“There are certainly some potential pitfalls,” VanDeaver said. “But I applaud the schools for trying to be innovative.”

As for whether it will solve a looming teacher shortage, Robinson said shorter weeks might be an incentive for some — but the underlying causes of burnout need to be addressed.

“We’ve had teacher shortages before the pandemic and the pandemic has only enlightened us to the fact that it’s a really serious situation,” he said. “One person is doing the job of three. And we need to look at that seriously in terms of what’s going on in our schools.”

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