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Opening Arguments

Snow days? Snow problem

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson and FWCS board President Mark GiaQuinta visited with our editorial board last week, and one of the things they mentioned in passing was their worry that the disruptions because of snow days would affect student performance. It seemed like common sense -- all those absences make it hard to keep an academic rhythm going with any kind of learning momentum. But then I stumbled across a story about a 2012 study that found otherwise:

The study, titled Flaking Out: Snowfall, Disruptions of Instructional Time, and Student Achievementby Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, says that school closures due to inclement weather do not actually affect student achievement as measured by scores on the standardized Massachusetts  Comprehensive Assessment System. Individual absences do.

That makes sense, too. When an individual is absent, he is out of sync with where the rest of the class is, so his performance suffers. When they all have to be absent, they are wherever they are together, so their overall performance stays the same.

Somehow, though, I think the snow days might have an effect that isn't completely measurable by standardized tests, especially in a year like this in which we're going to have a record number of them. How can I buy the argument (which I have) made by some educators who say year-round school is desirable because kids lose so much momentum over the summer and not also believe prolonged snow-day absences have no effect at all?


Posted in: Our town