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The Four-Day School Week in Oklahoma

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

In recent years, the four-day week has proliferated across the U.S., reaching traditional public schools in 25 states as of 2017. This study examined the prevalence, growth, and location of the movement in Oklahoma, a state that has led the U.S. in funding cuts to education and whose policies changed to allow four-day school weeks in public schools in 2009. Motivations for the schedule change include purported district savings on fixed costs such as transportation and heating as well as improved teacher hiring and retention. Descriptive analyses of data obtained from the Oklahoma State Department of Education show that the percent of Oklahoma public school students in four-day schools has increased dramatically since the policy enabling the schedule was first implemented in 2009, such that approximately 41,000 students (7% of all public school students) attended a school with a four-day week in the 2017-2018 school year. We note overall growth in the prevalence of the schedule over time, with a particularly sharp increase in four-day weeks at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Additional analyses indicate that the schedule primarily occurs in rural schools, as well as a few town or suburban schools. Maps of district-level schedule changes suggest the schedule has been “contagious,” spreading from a single district to nearby districts over time. Among the many unexamined potential consequences of the schedule change are implications for student learning, student attendance, academic achievement, teacher effectiveness, teacher hiring and retention, student nutrition, adolescent delinquency, and students' overall health and well-being. This study brings attention to the growing prevalence of the four-day week in Oklahoma and calls for further research into the many potential impacts of such a schedule change on K-12 students, families, and communities across the United States.

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