Does 4 equal 5? Research on impacts of 4-day school weeks

Four-day weeks are becoming more common in school districts, particularly in rural areas of the U.S. Many districts are finding students and families like the shorter school weeks. In fact, in a survey of schools with four-day week policies, 85 percent of parents and 95 percent of students said they would choose to remain on the schedule rather than switch back to a five-day week. While these shorter weeks are popular with stakeholders, might there be unintended consequences of four-day school weeks? Are there certain ways to implement the schedule that lead to better outcomes for students?

Most of what is known about these questions has come from research conducted in the last five years. My colleagues and I have studied the four-day week using quantitative and qualitative data from state departments of education, school districts, and the NWEA MAP Growth research database. These projects and other recent research on four-day weeks have shed some light on questions about the implementation and outcomes of four-day school weeks. The research analyzes qualitative and quantitative data to compare students’ experiences and outcomes on four-day and five-day school weeks. We find that there are both benefits and drawbacks to the shorter school week, and these tradeoffs can vary based on the characteristics of the school district and how they implement the four-day week in practice.

Benefits: What Supporters of the Four-Day School Week Are Saying…Read More

AVID has huge benefits for high school students

New UCLA-led research finds that a college preparatory program for youth experiencing educational inequities that operates in about 13 percent of U.S public high schools has a positive effect on students’ social networks, psycho-social outcomes, and health behaviors. 

The findings, published Dec. 16 in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, suggest that the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program, aimed at increasing educational opportunities for under-represented and economically disadvantaged students, also significantly reduces substance use.

“Academic tracking” is a common practice in high schools through which lower-performing students are clustered with others of similar academic achievement. Although intended to tailor academic rigor to students’ level of preparation, the study findings suggest that this practice may be counterproductive by reinforcing risky behaviors that students pick up from their peers.…Read More

AI’s promising reality in classrooms

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an ambiguous word in education circles, evoking images of machines replacing human teachers in the future. The truth, while less fantastic, is that AI is a solid tool that assists educators in the classroom right now.

Join experts during an eSchool News webinar to discuss the real-world ways AI operates and how AI systems enable teachers to better interact with students, simplify everyday classroom tasks, and improve overall efficiency and productivity.

Key takeaways include:…Read More

Use these 5 strategies to boost student engagement

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on innovative ways to engage students, digital resources, and online and hybrid learning strategies related to post-pandemic teaching. This year’s 9th most-read story focuses on instructional strategies for better student engagement.

Student engagement has long been an indicator of growth and progress, and in the wake of the pandemic, it will prove essential for academic and social-emotional recovery.

Recent insights pulled from a survey of more than 2,000 identifies instructional practices that enable student engagement, no matter the learning environment.…Read More

Predicting innovation trajectories in K-12 education

There are lots of promising innovations in tiny pockets of the education system, but decades of advocacy and investment have failed to see those innovations scale. How can we better predict which innovations flourish and which founder?”

My last blog post argued that new value networks are the missing enablers for disrupting the conventional model of K–12 schooling. But the concept of value networks can do more than explain why disruptive models struggle to take root. All organizations live within value networks. And analyzing an organization’s value network makes clear whether and how it will approach potential improvements and innovations.

What are value networks?…Read More

4 ways districts can better advocate for students

Public education remains the nation’s great equalizer, giving every child the best chance for success in life. A chance that can turn into an assurance if school districts provide a solid foundation at every step in a student’s path toward graduation and beyond. Unfortunately, too many children right now are standing on shaky ground.

As the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools (MPS) in Meriden, Conn., I can tell you not one of our 8,500 children emerged from the pandemic completely unscathed. The academic and emotional fallout took its toll on everyone. However, it’s been especially hard on students who need extra support, including English learners, students in special education programs, and those who have been disenfranchised from or disengaged with education in general.

Over the years, MPS has developed strategies to help our administrators, teachers, and staff become stronger advocates for their students and to more effectively engage community partners and families. Our goal is to ensure education works for every child, regardless of their circumstances.…Read More

4 blended learning strategies for better student engagement

A 2019 Gallup study that included 128 schools and more than 110,000 students found that student engagement and hope were significantly positively related to student academic achievement progress in math, reading, and all subjects combined.

This is why it’s even more concerning that we continue to see student performance decline, with the National Assessments of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, reporting that students in the U.S. had the largest average reading score decline since 1990, and the first ever score decline in math in 2022.

Knowing that many students are struggling with learning setbacks can feel overwhelming, but we’re hoping we can help you look at these scores as an opportunity to implement new instructional strategies that engage students, and therefore, help mitigate learning loss.…Read More

Schools can do better than retaining struggling readers

Grade retention is ineffective and expensive, but 17 states and Washington, D.C. mandate it (and at least 12 more states allow it) for students who are not reading proficiently by grade 3. The best way to stop grade retention, whether you live in a state with laws mandating it or not, is to provide students with explicit, phonics-based literacy instruction rooted in the science of reading, beginning in kindergarten.

Here’s how schools and districts can help students begin learning to read on track and stay there to avoid retention.

Who Gets Retained?…Read More