5 March 2012
We hope you can join us this Wednesday, March 7, 2012 for the Applied Statistics Workshop. Joshua Goodman, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, will give a presentation entitled "Flaking Out: Snowfall, Disruptions of Instructional Time, and Student Achievement". A light lunch will be served at 12 pm and the talk will begin at 12.15.
"Flaking Out: Snowfall, Disruptions of Instructional Time, and Student Achievement"
Harvard Kennedy School
CGIS K354 (1737 Cambridge St.)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 12.00 pm
Recent research on charter schools, summer learning loss, and international achievement suggests that instructional time is a critical input to the education production function. Using student and school-grade fixed effects models with data from Massachusetts, I find no relation between school closures and achievement but a strong relation between student absences and achievement. I then confirm these results using temporal and spatial variation in snowfall to provide better identification. Extreme snowfall induces school closures but does not affect achievement. Moderate snowfall induces student absences and does reduce achievement. Instrumental variables estimates suggest that each absence induced by bad weather reduces math achievement by 0.05 standard deviations. These results are consistent with a model of instruction in which coordination of students is the central challenge. Teachers deal well with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like school closures, but deal poorly with absences that affect different students and different times. These estimates suggest that absences are responsible for up to 20% of the achievement gap between poor and nonpoor students. They also suggest that policies designed solely to increase instructional time may not be effective.