Time & Student Achievement

There is a substantial amount of research describing the pivotal role of learning time in achieving various student outcomes. Here you will find some of the more significant pieces in the field of time and learning for quick reference. 

Key Sources

This study uses the Academic Learning Time (ALT) model to analyze proposals to extend the school calendar. Authors explain that the first task for schools is to maximize ALT within the existing school day before adding additional time.  

Chenoweth, K. (2007). It’s being done: Academic success in unexpected schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Examines a variety of schools where students outperform their socioeconomically-matched peers. The author identifies setting high expectations for students, data-driven instruction, the thoughtful use of school time, ongoing professional development for teachers, and competent leadership teams as key tenets of these effective schools. 

Research from Harvard economist Roland Fryer examined charter schools in New York City to identify those elements within schools that had the greatest impact on academic outcomes. The analysis included many traditional measures like teacher credentials and class size, but found that those factors had only weak correlations with student achievement. Instead, the research determined that instructional time—measured as the time students were actually engaged in learning—and high-dosage tutoring were much stronger predictors of higher achievement. 

Analyzes the promising practices of eight public schools that feature at least fifteen percent more time than the conventional schedule. The authors describe how these schools organize their schedule, integrate staff, secure funding, and ultimately sustain this additional time for their students.

In an evaluation of the charter schools in New York City, analysts discovered that among charter school students those who attended schools with a significantly longer school year (which usually was strongly associated with a longer day) performed much better than their peers in charter schools with years of more conventional length. In fact, expanded time registered one of the strongest correlations among the roughly 30 different factors considered. 

Investigates the impact of a shorter school year due to unscheduled school closings for inclement weather, on math and reading state assessment scores over more than a decade.  Author finds that in years with an average number of unscheduled closures (5), the number of students performing satisfactorily is nearly 3 percent lower than in years with no school closures. Estimates that half of the schools failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) in third grade math or reading, would have met AYP goals if schools had been open on all scheduled days.

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