Session Summary: The Effect of School Curriculum Reforms on Student Achievement and Attainment
November 10, 2012 08:52 AM
The discussion in the APPAM 2012 Fall Research Conference session The Effect of School Curriculum Reforms on Student Achievement and Attainment revolved around an analysis of programs across the country which focuses on lengthening or adding extra courses to a student’s school day. "It appears as a common thread throughout the entirety of the proposed research," noted discussant Phil Gleason of Mathematic Policy Research. "Though intuitively more instruction leads to more learning, it is not clear that more is always better due to the opportunity cost the students face and increased burnout rates of both students and teachers."
Researchers Melissa Velez, Amy Checkoway, and Tamara Linkow of Abt Associates presented findings from a multi-year study done in Massachusetts on the Extended Learning Time (ELT) policy, which extends the school year by more than 300 hours. They used a difference in differences with matched comparison approach. Contrary to intuition, there was no relationship besides a statistical significance increase in educational attainment of science, which became evident when the students were tested in the fourth year of the study.
In contrast to this, researcher Eric Taylor of Stanford University presented his research on the effects of the Miami-Dade school system in "doubling up" on math classes within the length of the school day. He noted that when the students were treated from 5th to 6th grade, there was an 8% jump in test scores and a clear pattern of increased proficiency at the end of their 6th grade year. However, as the students progressed into the 7th and 8th grades, there was observed diminishing returns. Researchers Shaun Dougherty and Joshua Goodman, both of Harvard University, observed similar results their works on "doubling up" within adolescent literacy and remedial algebra, respectively. In conclusion, it appears as if lengthening the school day does not work as well as expanding in-class time during the current school day schedule.
-contributed by Katherine Centore, Rutgers University