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Five days good, four days better? [CA]

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Alphonso, Caroline
Publication Date: 
24 Apr 2004

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It took a while for Josie Arthurs's kids to adapt to the longer school day, even though it meant a shorter week. Their teachers noticed they were restless in class, and they were always cranky when they got home.

It has been almost two years since the Boundary school district in south-central British Columbia dropped Friday from its school week to trim utility, transportation and custodial costs. Longer days from Monday through Thursday make up for the lost time.

Ms. Arthurs admits to being apprehensive when the change was introduced. Would her kids be able to handle a longer school day? More important, would it affect their learning to have a three-day weekend?

Those fears, she found, were unwarranted. If anything, the small, but growing number of Canadian school boards that have adopted a four-day week have found that their students are doing as well as those who stick to the traditional school calendar.

The most comprehensive research in Canada on the four-day school week comes from southern Saskatchewan. Richard Jones, author of the study commissioned by Saskatchewan Learning, compared student performance over two years in a division that had switched to four-day weeks with those at two other school boards with five-day schedules. He found that longer days and a shorter week has no detrimental impact on student achievement.

But Lynne Saas, a former director of education for the school division that was studied (then called Scenic Valley), says she wouldn't recommend the four-day model for urban schools. Finding child care could be problematic. And the older kids would "turn to mall rats," she said.

- reprinted from Globe and Mail