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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:
  • Addition of study hall/creative studies class - students get to choose topics
  • Longer periods (quasi-block schedule) - continuous contact time goes up
  • No graded homework goes home - students are done when they leave 
  • More family time - an option for all families
  • Transportation savings - approx 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 (8a-4:30p)
  • Kindergarten schedule mimics daycare schedules
  • 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)