Schools are constantly trying to find ways to improve their test scores. Smaller class size and more technology are frequently cited as possible ways to make gains on tests. However, a new study has found a seemingly simpler way to improve scores – stay longer.
In 2014, Florida essentially mandated a longer school day for schools that were lagging behind on test scores. The study found that the additional instructional time for literacy did have a modest positive impact in relation to reading test scores:
This paper uses a sharp regression discontinuity design to estimate the effects of lengthening the school day for low-performing schools in Florida by exploiting an administrative cutoff for eligibility. Our results indicate significant positive effects of additional literacy instruction on student reading achievement. In particular, we find effects of 0.05 standard deviations of improvement in reading test scores for program assignment in the first year, though long-run effects are difficult to assess.
The preliminary results of this study seem to echo what many charter and other non-traditional school models have been claiming for years: More time in school equals better results.
As with any study, there are limitations. Most of the study was conducted in low socio-economic and minority settings. Meaning, there is no way to tell whether an extended school day would yield the same effect in an affluent school district. However, a more affluent district likely would not need a similar effect to reach proficiency on reading exams either.
Read the full study here. (Calder Center)