Coming next week: An in-depth look at four-day schools

The shift to a four-day school calendar might be the biggest school experiment nobody talks about.

5-day-series-on-4-day-schools270Nearly 27,000 students attend four-day schools across the state, from Boundary County to Preston. Together, they account for more than 9 percent of Idaho’s student population.

Forty-three districts and nine charter schools operate on a four-day schedule — numbers that have quadrupled since the recession.

Yet research on four-day schools remains sketchy and inconclusive.

Next week, Idaho Education News and Idaho Public Television hope to start the conversation and provide some answers. We are teaming up on a week-long series on four-day schools — and how they affect students and teachers, parents and families, taxpayers and communities.

We fanned out to interview school leaders, parents and kids in more than 15 districts and charters; Idaho’s political and education leaders; and academics and education agencies from more than half a dozen states. We reviewed the national research — and compiled and combed Idaho test scores and student data.


Here’s the lineup for next week:


An unproven experiment. State leaders have done little to seek out hard evidence about four-day schools. The support for four-day schools is palpable, but anecdotal.

By the numbers. Numbers that confirm — and contradict — what Idahoans think they know about four-day schools.


Grade: incomplete. Academic data on four-day schools is sparse — in Idaho and across the nation. What can we learn from the state’s limited numbers?

The outliers. A closer look at Sage International School, a charter school in affluent Southeast Boise; and COSSA Academy, an alternative high school in Canyon County.


The savings that weren’t. A four-day calendar yields limited savings for school districts. For some districts, the savings carry an unacceptable cost.

A second look. The Preston School District looked to save money by closing school on Fridays. As the district revisits that decision, dollars still factor into the debate.

Thursday, Nov. 19

Adjustments in the classroom. How have teachers and students adapted to new routines and longer school days?

Fast times in Notus. A closer look inside a high-achieving and quick-paced four-day district.

Friday, Nov. 20

Flex time. In four-day schools, Friday begins another three-day weekend. How do families, teachers and students use the extra “off” day?

A day off in Challis. We spend a Friday in Challis, a Central Idaho community where the four-day school week has grown routine.

“Idaho Reports.” Tune into “Idaho Reports” at 8 p.m. MST and PST Friday, Nov. 20, to learn more and see more about four-day schools.


We’re excited to present this series, and proud to partner on this project.

Through words, photos, video clips, graphics and maps, we’re going to be able to tell this important story about rural Idaho — in a rich, compelling manner.

Please join the conversation here at, or on the Idaho Education News Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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