Four-Day School Week Policy

Healthy Eating and Active Living Research Core

Hallie E. Ford Center


Conference October 20-21, 2023

Four-Day School Weeks:

What do we know and where are we going?

A closer look at cutting edge research and practice envisioning the future of the four-day school week.

Provided at no cost to all attendees by Oregon State University and the Spencer Foundation.

We conduct comprehensive analyses of four-day school week policy adoption and implementation to understand the impacts on children and families.

Our efforts will inform decision makers, help leaders solve problems, and promote positive change in our communities.


About Four-Day School Weeks (FDSW)

Four-day school weeks are used in over 1,600 schools across 24 states, but little is known about adoption and implementation of these types of school calendars. Most research to date has focused on the cost effectiveness and impacts on academic achievement, with considerable less attention to impacts on child and family health and well-being. To learn more about FDSW models in general, explore the Conference of State Legislatures website. To learn more about what we are doing at Oregon State University, explore the links to our research and publications below.



Research publications by HEAL Core faculty and their students related to Four-Day School Weeks.


Thompson, P.N., Tomayko, E.J., Gunter, K., Schuna, J.M.   (2022). Impacts of the four-day school week on high school achievement and educational engagement. Education Economics. 1-13 10.1080/09645292.2021.2006610


Thompson PN, Ward J.  (2022). Only a matter of time? The role of time in school on four-day school week achievement impacts. Economics of Education Review. 86:102198 10.1080/09645292.2021.2006610


Tomayko EJ, Thompson PN, Smith MC, Gunter KB, Schuna Jr. JM. (2021) Impact of reduced school exposure on adolescent health behaviors and food security: evidence from 4-day school weeks. J Sch Health. 91: 1055-1063. DOI: 10.1111/josh.13095/p>


Thompson, P.N. (2021). Is four less than five? Effects of four-day school weeks on student achievement in Oregon. Journal of Public Economics. 193, 104308. 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104308


Thompson, P.N., Schuna, J.M., Gunter, K., Tomayko, E.J. (2020). "Are All Four-Day School Weeks Created Equal? A National Assessment of Four-Day School Week Policy Adoption and Implementation". Education Finance and Policy 0 0:ja, 1-50 10.1162/edfp_a_00316


Tomayko, Emily J.., Gunter, Katherine B.., Schuna, John M.., & Thompson, Paul N.., (2020). "Effects of Four-Day School Weeks on Physical Education Exposure and Childhood Obesity". Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 10.1123/jpah.2019-0648.




Effects of Four-Day School Weeks on Student Achievement and Child and Family Wellbeing

Agency: Spencer Foundation
Team: Paul Thompson, PI, Kathy Gunter, Co-I, and John Schuna, Co-I, (OSU), Emily Tomayko, Co-PI (Montana State University), and Jason Ward, Co-PI (Rand Corporation)
Award Period: 2021-2023

Evaluating the effects of four day school weeks on child and family health, wellbeing, and socioeconomic factors

Agency: NIH, NICHD
Team: Paul Thompson, Co-PI, Kathy Gunter, Co-I, and John Schuna, Co-I, (OSU), Emily Tomayko, PI (Montana State University)
Award Period: 2021-2023

Research team

Kathy Gunter, Ph.D.

Kathy Gunter, Ph.D.

Professor and Extension Specialist
Kinesiology, Extension Family & Community Health
Oregon State University

John Schuna Jr, Ph.D.

John Schuna Jr, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Oregon State University

Paul N. Thompson

Paul N. Thompson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Oregon State University

Emily Tomayko, Ph.D., RD

Emily Tomayko, Ph.D., RD

Assistant Professor
Montana State University

Jason Ward, Ph.D.

Jason Ward, Ph.D.

Associate Economist
Rand Corporation



Madeleine C. Smith,
Paul Thompson, Advisor, College of Liberal Arts
Honor’s Thesis
"Attachment to Place Among Teenage Students in School Districts With Four-Day School Weeks"

FDSW in the News

February 28, 2023

Some schools are switching to the 4-day workweek to bring in and keep teachers, but education officials say it's not a 'magic pill' to fix the educator shortage

The switch to a four-day week in education isn't without debate, as professionals and organizations have said it could heighten systemic inequities.
Read more at Business Insider.

January 26, 2023

Four-day school week gaining popularity nationally. Why isn’t it happening in California?

Four-days school weeks are growing in popularity nationally. The schedule offers greater flexibility for families and teachers, but studies show it also can result in lower student test scores.
Read more at EdSource.

August 29, 2022

How Bad Is the Teacher Shortage? Depends Where You Live.

Urgently needed: teachers in struggling districts, certified in math or special education. Perks: maybe a pay raise, or how about a four-day week?
Read more at The New York Times.

February 1, 2022

Oregon State University study examines academic impact of 4-day school week

Researchers compared standardized math test scores of more than 340,000 high school students.

January 27, 2022

Oregon State study finds lower math scores in high schools that switched to 4-day school week

Study analyzing the impact of a shorter school week for high schools found that 11th-grade students participating in a four-day week performed worse on standardized math tests than students who remained on five-day schedules.
Read more at OSU Today.

July 12, 2021

4-day school weeks: Educational innovation or detriment?

Evidence suggests instructional time makes the difference. Read more at Brookings.

July 8, 2021

Recess quality influences student behavior, social-emotional development, OSU study finds

Recess quality, not just the amount of time spent away from the classroom, plays a major role in whether children experience the full physical, mental and social-emotional benefits of recess, a new study from Oregon State University found.
Read more at OSU Today.

September 07, 2020

Will COVID-19 make rural Colorado’s four-day school week an urban thing, too?

As the coronavirus pandemic has upended classroom operations and district finances across Colorado, the four-day week may be poised to expand beyond the state’s rural school districts and into urban areas that have long resisted it. Read more at The Denver Post.

June 1, 2020

Four-day school weeks becoming more common, with mixed results, study finds

Social distancing poses several challenges for younger children whose physical and emotional needs differ from older kids. Educators have identified ways to keep kids safe while giving them the environment needed to learn and feel cared for. Read more at OSU News and Research Communications.

June 1, 2020

OSU study finds mixed results from four-day school weeks

“We hear in the news that schools have implemented this four-day school week, but we didn’t have any systematic evidence of the scope of implementation,” said lead author Paul Thompson. Read more at KTVZ.