Lockney teachers get weekend back, student scores improve after switch to 4-day instructional week

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lockney I.S.D. is seeing the benefits after its first school year with a four-day instructional week. Last year, the district wanted to retain and reward its teachers. The rural district couldn’t give them more money, so superintendent Jim Baum says it gave them more time.

With a 4-day instructional week this school year, teachers moved grading and lesson planning to Monday afternoon, instead of the weekend. Instructional days Tuesday-Friday became 45 minutes longer.

“I had a teacher come up to me just in tears and say, ‘For the first time, I was able to sit in church and focus on church instead of what I’m supposed to be doing tomorrow,” Baum said.

High school Spanish teacher Kathlyn Azua says this is the biggest change she’s experienced at the district in her 25 years there.

“I like it, but man you cannot fall back on anything and you have to stay on top of things because Tuesday comes and it’s already Thursday, we’ve got to go on. And so, it was a fast-paced week for me, but I enjoyed it.”

Classrooms aren’t empty on Mondays, though. In the morning, teachers provide tutorials to help students who are falling behind or who’ve missed school, and can grade and lesson plan in the afternoon. Students also work on their extracurriculars in the afternoon. Baum says that gives students more 1-on-1 time with their teachers and they get to see a different side to them. Fourth grade math and social studies teacher Jeri Rexrode says the relaxed time in smaller groups gave students more confidence.

“I go up to school without makeup on and the kids just love it. And we just hang out together for one day in that just relaxed atmosphere and then we’re ready to hit it hard Tuesday through Friday,” Rexrode said.

Those tutorials played a part in boosting some STAAR test scores. Baum says the school is still receiving and analyzing results, but Rexrode’s class is one example of the improvement. From third to fourth grade, the class saw a 44 percent increase in students who approached grade level, 26 percent who met grade level and 7 percent who mastered grade level.

“So, we were fully prepared to see a little bit of a slide while we got some momentum and we’ve seen quite the opposite,” Baum said.

He says among the statewide teacher shortage, the switch has “tremendously” improved recruiting. He says student attendance is a concern for next year.

“I think some of our folks did a really good job with that. From a teacher perspective, I think we did a great job with it, but we still had a lot of students who missed school during the school year just because this is a new system. We haven’t had the opportunity to gain that momentum, but we’re hoping that next year is a lot stronger with our student attendance.”

Baum says the hope is that students and teachers who need to miss school for things like appointments can schedule those on Mondays. Azua says she takes care of her elderly parent, so it’s been nice to move all of their appointments to Monday afternoon.

Baum says several other schools have reached out to him interested in making a similar change. He says Winters I.S.D. has adopted the 4-day schedule.

The Lockney Board approved a $5,000 raise for teachers last night. Baum says it was part of their commitment to make Lockney I.S.D. a great place to learn, by ensuring it is a great place to teach.

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