What Are the Disadvantages of a 4-Day School Week?

Disadvantages of 4-day school weeks include fewer extracurricular activities, long and tiring days for students and teachers and the possibility of students failing to retain information over a long weekend. Four-day school weeks exist in school districts of 21 states as of 2014, including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana and Michigan. Most districts using 4-day school week schedules exist in rural areas, and they have adopted the nontraditional school schedule to cut down on operating costs.

The practice of using 4-day school weeks emerged in the early 1930s. The popularity of shortened school weeks increased during the 1970s, following the energy crisis, and it continues today. Some districts report savings in electricity, transportation and staff costs upon switching to a 4-day school schedule, and they also note higher attendance rates.

However, the federal government sets minimum weekly and annual hours for school operations. Schools employing a 4-day schedule face challenges meeting state and federal laws for required hours. Also, leaving an extra day free for children puts a burden on working parents to secure additional childcare services. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, many states have policies permitting 4-day school weeks. However, they prefer using the standard 5-day week. Supporters of traditional 5-day weeks cite improved academic achievements and more time for staff training and development as motives for keeping standard school schedules.