Could more time in school help students after the pandemic?

By: | May 25, 2021

It seems intuitive that what children need now is more time. Because students missed so much instruction during the pandemic, teachers should get extra time to fill all those instructional holes, from teaching mathematical percents and zoological classifications to discussing literary metaphors and American history.

Indeed, many advocacy groups, including the Learning Policy Institute and Ed Trust, are recommending extending learning time next year. I haven’t heard about many school districts announcing longer schedules yet but I was curious to learn what research evidence shows for students at schools that have extended the day or lengthened the year. (I’m excluding optional after-school programs here.) I was surprised by how few well-designed studies there are and how uncertain the benefits have been.

”We don’t really know what the effects are,” said Jean B. Grossman, an economist at Princeton University and MDRC, a nonprofit research organization, who has studied this research literature. “My takeaway is that extending the learning year doesn’t really work. Just adding 10 extra days doesn’t seem to have any effect.”

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