The story up and down the East Coast is Hurricane Sandy, and our thoughts here TSC are with those who are feeling the remarkable impact of this storm.
In Boston, we have been lucky to have been spared the worst of it. However, there are parts of the country that will be recovering from this storm for the weeks to come. In some cases, that means students will be out of school for extended periods of time. As I considered this morning what this might mean for the students of New York City, Atlantic City and Newark and across the Eastern Seaboard, I was reminded of this study – done by researchers at the University of Maryland – which analyzes the impact of unscheduled school closings for inclement weather on math and reading state assessment scores over more than a decade. The authors find 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. The researchers estimate 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.
Now, we know that administrators do not take the decision to close schools, even for a day, lightly. And when they do so, it is largely because there are concerns for student and staff safety. The other side of that equation that the administrators must balance is the importance of learning time. As this study demonstrates, learning time is powerful and missing even a few days of school can have longer term impacts on student outcomes.
As we think about expanding learning time, we look at this study as a proof point that the quantity of time in school does make a difference. And with more time in school, the study gives us reason to believe that the impacts could be greater. We wish you and your community all the best in the coming days.