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Jul 26, 2010 2:06 PM by Letitia Walker

4 day week could hurt students

COLUMBIA, La. (AP) - Four-day school weeks in Caldwell Parish

are a favorite of students and teachers, but a comparison of test

scores before and after shortened weeks show student achievement

could be suffering.

With funding in short supply statewide, many local school

districts are researching the viability of four-day school weeks -

weighing the financial savings against the effect on student

achievement.

Caldwell Parish Schools adopted the four-day week two years ago

and plans to continue for the upcoming school year. Union Parish

recently made the decision to consolidate schools and reduce the

school week to four days to save money.

A comparison of Caldwell Parish fourth-grade LEAP scores from

2007 before the shortened week to those of the 2010 spring scores

shows that the percentage of students scoring basic and above

dropped in three out of four subject areas.

The number of students scoring basic and above in English

language arts increased 5 percent, but fell 4 percent in math, 7

percent in science and 8 percent in social studies.

Eighth-grade scores also were down in three out of four subject

areas. The percentage of students in eighth grade scoring basic or

above was down 2 percent in English language arts, down 9 percent

in math, down 9 percent in science and up 1 percent in social

studies.

Students qualifying for promotion from grade four to five has

remained the same as in 2007, but students meeting promotional

standards in eighth grade are down four points.

Superintendent John Sartin said the district's larger picture

shows increases in district performance scores from 2007. District

performance scores are a combination of a school district's

individual students scores on LEAP, iLEAP and Graduate Exit Exam,

as well as attendance and dropout rates and graduation outcomes.

The district performance score in Caldwell Parish has increased

from 92.8 in 2007 to 96 in 2009. Scores for 2010 have not yet been

released.

A Louisiana State Department of Education comparison of the

average percentage of students scoring basic and above to include

grades three through 12 ranks Caldwell Parish among the bottom

eight in the state for percentage of change. Ouachita and Jackson

showed a 1 percent reduction and Avoyelles Parish showed no change.

Beauregard, Caldwell, Catahoula, St. Landry, and Webster Parishes

grew 1 percent.

Sartin said he believes the shortened school week is

"absolutely not" adversely affecting student performance.

"We certainly are looking at that very carefully," he said.

"If we felt like it was overall adversely affecting our score, we

would have to look at changing."

Ouachita Parish and Monroe City Schools have researched the

financial impact of reducing the number of days per week.

Lincoln Superintendent Danny Bell said the four-day week is not

something he believes would be well tolerated by his community.

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