Updated:
Original:

Kids rejoice: Study finds snow days don't harm achievement

Author:

Parents, teachers and school administrators worried about how the unprecedented number of January cancellation days will shape student learning can chill out. They may be heartened by a new study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School that finds no academic harm in the closures.

The Harvard Gazette reports the research, conducted by Assistant Professor Joshua Goodman, shows that snow days do not impact student learning. Instead, he finds that keeping schools open can be more detrimental to learning than closing them. The full study, available here, is titled "Flaking Out: Snowfall, Disruptions of Instructional Time, and Student Achievement."

The lesson for administrators might be counterintuitive.

“They need to consider the downside when deciding not to declare a snow day during a storm — the fact that many kids will miss school regardless, either because of transportation issues or parental discretion," Goodman said. "And because those absences typically aren’t made up in the school calendar, those kids can fall behind.”

The study finds keeping schools open in bad weather typically leads to more absences for low-income students, who often can least afford the loss of instruction time. A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor concludes school closures mean "a level playing field for all students with no instruction time missed, since snow days are often made up at the end of the school year."

BBC News picked up the story, noting that students who savor authorized days off will approve of the summary from Goodman: "Closures have no impact. Absences do."

Here in Minnesota, the debate over closing schools continues.

The Star Tribune Opinion page carried a commentary from a school nurse in the Minneapolis district who supports the decision to keep schools shuttered in the bitter weather. Janelle Holmvig writes that the subzero temperatures are dangerous to children who lack adequate outerwear.

"Minneapolis public school social workers are wizards at collecting winter clothing and distributing it to children who need it. But what if a coat is forgotten on the bus, or a mitten is lost, or — more common than is fair — a child wets his or her clothing and no one has had the money or time to get to the laundromat? Hauling laundry on public transportation is a yeoman’s job, and most of our parents don’t send their shirts out to be laundered," she writes. "The fact is, our students don’t always dress for the weather. Their life circumstances and socioeconomic status dictate this."

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins saves the day again to get Vikings to .500

Cousins' overtime toss to K.J. Osborn earned a 34-28 victory.

Nurses on strike

Nurses start 3-day strike at Allina WestHealth in Plymouth

A "last attempt" at negotiations failed to produce an agreement last Wednesday.

boating minnesota lake

Minnesota has experienced its deadliest boating season since 2005

Minnesota has seen 17 boating-related deaths so far this year.

Drew Doughty

Kirill Kaprizov makes Kings’ Doughty eat his words

The Kings defenseman isn't a fan of the Wild star's new deal.

Quinn Olson / UMD Hockey

Watch: UMD's Olson goes between-the-legs to set up highlight goal

Another Saturday. Another highlight for a Minnesota college hockey team.

Gopher Hockey

Watch: No-call lifts Gophers to OT victory over St. Cloud State

A blatant hook marred a top-four battle in St. Cloud.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Driver killed after crashing into parked semi-trailer

The crash occurred on the 5800 block of University Avenue Northeast.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings-Panthers: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings will look to open things up in Carolina.

Related