Some Week Evidence on Successful Schools

My former thesis adviser Caroline Hoxby has a paper out on the effect of New York’s charter schools on student achievement (with Sonali Murarka). Using randomised entrance lotteries, she finds that charter schools raise student achievement. But the more interesting part comes when she looks to unpack why some charter schools raise test scores more than others. It turns out that the schools that do best tend to have a very long school year – several weeks longer than the typical US public school.

Hoxby and Murarka also look at the length of the school day, and find no effect. This makes some intuitive sense to me, since the benefits of education must decline as kids get tired over the course of the day – but are plausibly no worse on Saturday than Friday.

The authors are careful to note that their evidence isn’t super-strong on this point. Perhaps long school years are capturing something about the quality of school leadership, rather than having a direct effect. But it’s interesting nonetheless. Here’s the more technical paper. A user-friendly version is available here.

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