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Jun 21

Let It Snow…..In June?

Okay, school is out for the summer and schools closing due to snow storms along with their associated issues are not on your mind. However in less than five months, for some school divisions, this scenario will be fast approaching. Along with the weather comes the inevidable question:  Will we close schools for the snow? What about the issues associated with shutting down schools?

Among the several issues associated with weather related school closings, including attendance, missed  instruction/learning time and for high schools disruption of athletic schedules, the loss of instructional time must be of paramount concern.  The emphasis on learning and the associated SOL development can lose momentum due to inclement weather in Virginia.  But does missing these days have the most deleterious affect on student learning? Perhaps not.  According to a recent article by Joshua Goodman the National Bureau of Economic Research(http://www.nber.org/papers/w20221), closing schools for all students is not as disruptive to learning as are individual student absences. “Teachers appear” noted Goodman, “to deal well with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like snow days but deal poorly with disruptions like absences that affect different students at different times.”  When you look at the issues related to getting individual students to do make up work, complete missed assessments and projects, this should give rise to thoughts of assisting teachers to close learning gaps by daily student absences.

You may follow the comments by Goodman in a similar blog by Libby Nelson, “The academic case for snow days” in the June 18 entry in VOX conversations: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/18/5821728/its-better-for-student-learning-to-cancel-school-when-it-snows