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A Four-Day School Week May Benefit Kids, Study Says

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Having a four-day week instead of five sounds pretty great, right? Well, researchers may have good news for your kids (sorry, Mom and Dad)! New findings suggest that decreasing the school week to four days could have positive results for elementary-aged students.

Researchers from Georgia State University and Montana State University found that removing one day from the standard school week, along with lengthening the remaining school days, showed an increase in math scores.

The study, which was published in "‹Education, Finance and Policy, compared test scores from the Colorado Student Assessment Program—specifically analyzing fourth-grade reading and fifth-grade math scores. The results came from small, more rural school districts.

The research concluded that while reading scores were not affected by switching to a four-day week, math scores were significantly higher.

Experts were surprised because, with a longer weekend, there is potentially more time for students to forget what they had learned. However, the study found very little evidence to prove that a shorter school week would compromise academics.

Further evidence must be done to determine whether the same conclusions could be made for urban school districts.

"We thought that especially for the younger, elementary school kids, longer days on a shorter school week would hurt their academic performance because their attention spans are shorter," said Mary Beth Walker, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State, in a press release about the study. "[But] our results...were completely opposite to what we anticipated."

Four-day schools weeks are gaining momentum in some states. More than a third of Colorado's school districts have adopted a four-day schedule, and the schedule has been considered in some parts of Oregon, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia. 

"My own personal hypothesis is teachers liked it so much—they were so enthusiastic about the four-day week—they did a better job," Walker said. "There's some evidence in other labor studies that four-day work weeks enhance productivity."

What do you think—would a four-day school week be a blessing for kids or a burden for parents? Tell us in the comments!

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

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