Assessing the effect of school days and absences on test score performance

Esteban Aucejo, Teresa Foy Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While instructional time is viewed as crucial to learning, little is known about the effectiveness of reducing absences relative to increasing the number of school days. Using administrative data from North Carolina public schools, this paper jointly estimates the effect of absences and length of the school calendar on test score performance. We exploit a state policy that provides variation in the number of school days prior to standardized testing and find substantial differences between these two effects. Extending the school calendar by ten days increases math and reading test scores by only 1.7% and 0.8% of a standard deviation, respectively. A similar reduction in absences would lead to gains of 5.5% in math and 2.9% in reading. We perform a number of robustness checks including utilizing flu data to instrument for absences, family-year fixed effects, distinguishing between excused and unexcused absences, and controlling for a contemporaneous measure of student disengagement. Our results are robust to these alternative specifications. In addition, our findings indicate considerable heterogeneity across student ability, suggesting that targeting absenteeism among low performing students could aid in narrowing current gaps in performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-87
Number of pages18
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Volume55
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

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school
performance
absenteeism
student
disengagement
Test scores
ability
learning
Calendar
time
Targeting
Testing
Absenteeism
Standard deviation
Fixed effects
Administrative data
Robustness
Public schools
State policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Assessing the effect of school days and absences on test score performance. / Aucejo, Esteban; Romano, Teresa Foy.

In: Economics of Education Review, Vol. 55, 01.12.2016, p. 70-87.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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