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4-Day School Week

The vision of Potomac School is about, "...equipping each student for his/her future within a culture of excellence that values the small community experience."  

The Background
This page serves as a resource to better understand the 4-day week.  Throughout the investigative and implementation processes, it has become apparent that much of HOW we approach the 4-day week will determine the successes in light of the research.  

The interest in the 4-day week came from the following question, "Is there a school structure that can better serve our students, staff, and community that supports our vision statement?"  The 5-day week schedule has limiting factors within a day: 7 hour time frame, courses that are required to be covered (state accreditation standards), required schedule components (lunch, prep, etc.) and state adoption of MCCS will increase need for more discussion/project time. To improve our ability to address the needs of our students while meeting all the requirements of accreditation, contracts, and finances, we found the 4-day week enabled more options.

A Montana report on the 4-day week is provided by OPI in their October 2011 report. A listing of research articles provide additional support for a 4-day school week.  While there are research articles for and against the 4-day school week, we look for and actively participate in those things that work for our district.  Please visit this page as we update the articles related to a successful implementation of a 4-day school week.  Please note: A recent research article was published citing Colorado's longstanding practice of 4-day school week labeled "March 2012." (see link below).

UPDATE (4/15/2014)
A dissertation that studied the 4-day week cited census data (all students in MT) that all MT schools/disricts on a 4-day school week saw statistically significant declines in achievement (MontCAS assessment data used). 

At Potomac we found average, scaled increases in our MAP math scores over the last two years. During this time, data was included involving significant currciular/structural change (2012 - ability based math placement; 2013 - switch to 4-day week AND from MT curriculum to Common Core).  These major changes take most districts 1-2 years to make the adjustment.

During the time the data was collected for the dissertation, Potomac moved from the MT curriculum to the Common Core in the fall of 2012. The MontCAS assessment (used to collect data for the dissertation)  is assesses student achievement according based upon the MT curriculum. During 2012-2013, we were no longer using MT's curriculum, we had implemented the Common Core.

In addition, students were assessed during a transition year and on curriculum (Common Core) that to a large extent rearranged content between grades.  While we don't disagree with the outcome of the dissertation and affirm the observed decline, we assert that Potomac has additional data utilizing assessments that match the Common Core (MAP) showing our Math scores going up district wide. We also assert that our transition to a 4-day week and overhauling our curriculum played a role in the decline of our MontCAS scores for the spring 2013 MontCAS assessment and used in the dissertation.

Montana Schools/Districts on a 4-Day week:
32 districts; total of 55 schools in MT operate on a 4-day week schedule (1 private):

Beaverhead County:     Reichle Elementary
Blaine County :            Bear Paw Elementary
Carter County:            Alzada Elementary
Choteau County:        Warrick Elementary
Custer County:           Cottonwood Elementary, S.H. Elementary, S.Y. Elementary, Spring Creek Elementary
Flathead County:        West Glacier Elementary
Garfield County:         Sand Springs Elementary
Jefferson County:        Jefferson High School
Lake County:              Arlee K-12 Schools; Swan Lake-Salmon Elementary; Two Eagle River High School (private)
Lewis & Clark Co:       Lincoln K-12
Madison County:        Alder Elementary, Sheridan Public Schools
Meagher County:        Lennep Elementary
Mineral County:         Alberton K-12 Schools
Missoula County:        Potomac K-8; Sunset Elementary
Musselshell County:    Melstone Public Schools
Phillips County:            Saco Public Schools
Powder River County:  South Stacey Elementary
Powell County:         Gold Creek Elementary, Ovando Elementary
Ravalli County:           Victor K-12 Schools
Rosebud County:        Ashland Elementary, Birney Elementary
Sanders County:          Hot Springs Public Schools, Noxon Public Schools
Sweet Grass County:    Greycliff Elementary
Yellowstone County:    Custer K-12 Schools

Identified Benefits:
  • More family time - an option for all families
  • Transportation savings - approximately 20%
  • 5th day (Explorers)- compliments/extends content in 4-day week
  • Reduced absenteeism - more continuous contact time, coordinated appts
  • Increased morale - students and staff return each week energized
  • Compliments Common Core "Style" of inquiry and interdisciplinary learning
  • Daily schedule fits more closely parent work schedules (7:50a-4:00p)
  • No early releases: staff development occurs on Fridays; continuous staff development/discussion time on Fridays

Effectiveness and Efficiency Measures:

Standardized testing results:
SBAC (available in 2015) MAP, and AIMSweb scores (MAP scores up each yr; spring 2013)

Absenteeism rates compared to SY 2011-2012
(down slightly; spring 2013)

Surveys: student, staff, parent, community
(higher morale, choice, and options for students such as the Explorers program)

Letter from the Principal: (October 24, 2019)
Potomac School Parents/Grandparents,

Over the past several weeks, we have had an unusually large number of students arriving at school late. Being on time is important for your child for two keys reasons.  First if your child is not present at the beginning of the class period, he or she will be missing some key instruction as well as the plans for the school day or class period. Please note that our instructional day begins at 7:50 am each day.  We have been allowing students to grab a breakfast when they arrive at school, and the teachers have been allowing some time in the classrooms for students to eat their school breakfast as we begin our school day. Montana laws pertaining to the required length of a school day require a specific minimum numbers of minutes of instruction per school year in order for students to receive academic credit as well as for the school district to receive its full entitlement of school funding from the state. Our school calendar is designed to satisfy these state minimum minutes of instructional per grade level.  To satisfy these time requirements, our students need to be in attendance from 7:50 to 4:00 every school day.

Because we recognize that starting the school day with a good breakfast is important, we offer breakfast to our students; however, we will stop distributing breakfast to students at 8:00 am. If you want your child to receive a school breakfast, make certain that your child arrives at school before 8:00 am.  Students are considered "tardy" after 7:50 am, so do your best to have your child at school before 7:50 am.  If you are bringing your student to school, and you will be arriving at the school after 8:00 am, please come into the office with your student to check him or her in

Of course, we realize that sometimes we are surprised by bad weather or poor road conditions that result in our school buses arriving late.  Because your child's safety is important, on these occasions of bad weather those students who arrive at school a few minutes after the normal start time of 7:50 will not be marked tardy. 

Should you have questions or you need further clarification regarding school start times, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks.

John P. Rouse, Principal



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