If Anything We Should Use More Snow Days, Says Harvard Prof

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Snow City

Well this is interesting. After a snow-day-filled school year that has school districts across the state scrambling to make up lost time and/or requesting waivers for going over the limit, a professor at Harvard has authored a study that suggests they shouldn’t worry about it. In fact, if anything, they should be erring on the side of too many snow days rather than too few.

In his findings titled “In Defense of Snow Days”, Joshua Goodman acknowledges that previous studies so far have shown that a year of many weather-related school closings is a year of poorer student performance. The problem is, apparently, that these previous studies didn’t consider the effect of individual student absences.

As Goodman worked through data collected from 2003 to 2010 in Massachusetts, he found that student absences may have a huge effect on achievement, whereas “instructional time lost to weather-related school closings has no impact on student test scores.”

So, if we are concerned with our students’ performance, we should in fact be more liberal with our cancellations to avoid the spike in student absences that occurs on days of moderately bad weather. Not only that, student absences should become, far and away, our focus when it comes to achievement gaps across racial and economic lines.

This year, Baltimore City schools used only as many snow days as they set aside. Anne Arundel County went over by one day. Baltimore County High Schools went over by about three days. Carroll County went over by six! (They’re cutting two days from spring break, adding an extra day at the end, and asking for a three-day waiver from the state.)

Read the findings here.



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