The four-day school week : research on extended weekends
With restrictions being made on state budgets, 'the four-day school week has been an increasingly attractive option for legislators seeking to cut education costs' (NCSL, 2014). Research has shown the beneficial and adverse aspects of an alternative school calendar through monetary interest, attendance of students and staff, morale, and academic scores (Donis-Keller & Silvernail 2009). However, there is limited information regarding the influence shortened school weeks have on students' social choices, particularly the choices they make with activities on weekends. As a result of lengthened weekends, the purpose of this case study was to examine the perception four-day school weeks has left on the various stakeholders of a rural Montana high school, with an emphasis on extended weekends, and to investigate the specific activities high school students participate in during three-day weekends. In order to investigate this topic further, the following research questions were directed to stakeholders from a rural Montana school district that recently shifted to a four-day schedule: 1.) As a result of a four-day school week, how do rural school stakeholders view the choices made by students on extended weekends?; 2.)What choices do students make on their extended weekends, and, according to stakeholders, what influences those choices?; 3.) In what ways is the four-day school week contributing to or detracting from student well-being? Data collection was achieved through individual interviews of administrators, teachers, and coaches, a focus group was held with parents of high school students, and insight from senior students was collected through a text-messaging system called Remind. Remind provided an innovative data collection technique that maintained anonymity of adolescent participants. The findings of this case study emphasize the importance and advancement in adolescent involvement with extracurricular activities, workforce, time spent with family and peers, and religious practices. However, the findings also bring forth further questions about adolescents not involved in athletics, clubs, religious endeavors, and the workforce.