A small North Texas school district will implement a four-day school week next academic year, the latest in the Lone Star State to adopt the schedule shift.
Anna Independent School District’s (ISD) Board of Trustees signed off on the three-year pilot program last week, pointing to a recent survey of community members and district employees that was overwhelmingly in favor of the move.
The school board’s decision adds Anna ISD to the growing list of smaller Texas public school districts that have adopted a four-day school week in a bid to recruit badly-needed teachers to staff their classrooms, including Chico ISD, Jasper ISD, Mineral Wells ISD, and Tioga ISD.
Anna ISD said as much in a notice to parents, citing “teacher recruitment and retention” as one of the primary drivers of the change.
Although the district is hurting for teachers, it has been doing a better job than the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) at managing its shortage while keeping on top of its student outcomes.
More than 90% of Anna ISD’s Class of 2022 graduated on time; DISD, for its part, only managed to graduate 81.1% of its Class of 2022 in four years, despite the heroic work of its dedicated educators.
Still, even though the survey of parents and staff indicated significant buy-in, Anna ISD’s move to a Monday-Thursday school week could pose some issues.
Working parents, for instance, have been scrambling to secure childcare for Fridays next school year.
“Parents have been calling last week. Yesterday, a lot of parents were anxious about where the kids will go,” said Rachael Gadi of the local daycare center Anna Kids Academy.
She told WFAA, months away from the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, that the daycare center already has a waitlist running specifically for Fridays.
Additionally, research on the efficacy of four-day school weeks suggests mixed results.
Many studies are quite localized, but an analysis across 12 states published in the academic journal Economics of Education Review found some “reductions in both math and English/language arts achievement.”
The Dallas Express reached out to Anna ISD’s superintendent and board of trustees and asked if they were familiar with the research on the impact of a four-day school week on students’ academic performance, noting the dips.
A spokesperson replied, “Where are you getting your data on a decline in reading and math?”
The Dallas Express subsequently forwarded the district the study published in Economics of Education Review but did not receive another response by press time.
A request for comment on the negative academic impacts of a four-day school week was also sent to Terrell ISD, which is adopting the schedule as well.
Terrell ISD claims to have done “extensive research on the impact and characteristics of the four-day week.” Still, it did not respond by press time.
There is no way children will learn as much in 4 days as 5. So we’re going to “dumb down” children even more. Not sure how the schools can afford that. They will only get state funding for 4 days. And, of course, that causes a problem and major expense for parents whose child needs daycare. And that gives teenagers another day without supervision to possibly get into mischief and place the problem on the citizens. And are teachers going to be paid the same for 4 day’s teaching? That’s a helluva pay increase. They need to stop putting mentally and/or emotionally challenged students in standard classrooms and put teachers back in charge, where children being disruptive in class will not be tolerated.