What if students only went to school four days a week?

Barring unexpected closures, students enrolled in San Francisco Public Schools will have seven three-day weekends this school year; there are five three-day weekends on the Hartford Public Schools calendar for 2016-2017; and Atlanta Public Schools students are scheduled to have three three-day weekends this year. In Bonners Ferry, Idaho, however, students can plan for 29 three-day weekends.

Boundary County School District—which includes Bonners Ferry—is one of the increasing number of rural districts adopting a four-day school-week model. Especially popular in the Mountain West region, 88 districts in Colorado, 43 in Idaho, 30 in Oregon, and nearly half of those in Montana are on the schedule, according to a new Brookings analysis. In most cases, instead of coming in on Friday, students spend longer hours at school Monday through Thursday, with the end goal being that the new schedule will not only save the schools some money, but also allow teachers to collaborate more and students to receive more extracurricular enrichment. However, educational outcomes from the four-day switch have proved inconclusive, and the cost-cutting hypothesis has largely been disproven, according to Paul Hill, a professor at the University of Washington Bothell and a co-author of the Brookings piece and a companion paper on the same topic.