Record Number of Missouri School Districts Switched to 4-Day Week

According to studies, the majority of parents favor the 4-day model

click to enlarge Nearly 25 percent of districts in Missouri have switched to 4-day school weeks. - SEMTRIO
Nearly 25 percent of districts in Missouri have switched to 4-day school weeks.

A record number of school districts in Missouri have moved to a four-day school week, according to research by the Missouri State University College of Education.

As the 2022-23 school year begins, an estimate of 141 school districts — nearly 25 percent of all districts — will teach students for just four days of school. This is the highest in Missouri history — a number that has steadily increased over the last two decades. In 2010, just one Missouri school had a four-day week. In 2020, the number of schools had jumped to 102.

The trend has caught on with smaller, rural school districts as a way to decrease burnout, retain teachers and compete with larger school districts in teacher recruitment. Of the schools that have adopted the four-day week, the median student enrollment is 392 and the median certified staff size is 46.

The largest district with a four-day week is Warren County R-III, with nearly 3,100 students. The smallest is Moniteau County R-V (Latham), with just 39 students. Only one district has returned to the five-day week, Jon Turner, associate professor in the College of Education at Missouri State University, told St. Louis Public Radio.

On average, 40 percent of Missouri teachers leave their schools after three years of employment,  according to Turner.

A 2021 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation interviewed more than 400 parents, teachers, administrators and students in New Mexico, Idaho and Oklahoma. Researchers spoke with people from four-day and five-day school weeks. They found that the four-day week led to 58 fewer hours of school per year and in those districts, “student achievement did not grow as fast” as in five-day districts. Students from the four-day districts received more sleep and spent more time on homework, jobs, sports and chores.

Overall, 85 percent of students favored the four-day model, along with 69 percent of parents.

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