K12 research roundup

Four-day school weeks lead to jump in student crime

Shortening school weeks may cut costs for districts, but the practice also increases student crime rates, according to a June study published in the Economics of Education Review. Researchers analyzed data from 1997 to 2014 in Colorado, where more than half of the state’s 178 districts operate on a shortened schedule.

Areas where at least one high school adopted a four-day week experienced a 20 percent increase in juvenile crime offenses. Property crime rates rose by nearly 27 percent, and drug violations increased as well. There was no effect on violent crime.

“We posit that because students have more unsupervised time—as they typically attend school Monday to Thursday on this schedule and have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off—there are more opportunities for them to misbehave” says Stefanie Fischer, assistant professor in the department of economics at Cal Poly State University and co-author of the report.

“School administrators should carefully consider the relevant costs and benefits before implementing such a schedule change, and one of those costs should be the change in crime.”

As of 2016, 21 states had adopted a four-day per week schedule for at least some public schools.

Food stamp distribution increases student test scores

Food stamps may be one key to narrowing the achievement gap between low- and high-income students, as low-income student test scores peak about three weeks after their family receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to a March study published in the American Educational Research Journal.

Researchers examined data on 148,000 public school students in North Carolina who receive SNAP, comparing the date benefits were obtained against math and reading test scores.

The relationship between students’ test scores and SNAP transfer fell into a curve, with reading scores peaking 17 days after SNAP transfer and math scores peaking 19 days after transfer.

“This research suggests that children’s nutrition and access to food benefits are related to their school achievement” says Anna Gassman-Pines, associate professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and co-author of the report.

“Superintendents should consider the context of low-income students’ lives outside of school to be able to fully support student achievement in school.”

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