From the Field

Do Students Benefit from Longer School Days?

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Extending the school day has been one of many policies implemented in several states in an effort to improve achievement for low-performing students. Since instructional time is fundamental in education, the policy is appealing. However, since schools that implement the extended school day are different from one another, it has been challenging to determine its effectiveness on a larger scale. David Figlio, Kristian L. Holden and Umut Ozek’s analysis of Florida’s extended school day policy, which is explained in their report, Do Students Benefit from Longer School Days?, contributes to this growing research area.

For the first year of the policy adding an hour to the school day, the lowest-performing 100 elementary schools (of about 1,800) were selected based on reading measures. The researchers’ regression discontinuity framework compared the academic outcomes of students in extended school day programs to students who have similar characteristics at schools without extra time. The researchers found that students enrolled in schools with extra time performed roughly 0.05 standard deviations better in reading, a statistically significant finding. But further research is needed to determine the long-term impacts of the extended school day program.

Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.