Reality Check: Snow days and test scores

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Here in Ohio, the Department of Education allows for five calamity days.

Cincinnati Public Schools, Oak Hills, and Sycamore Community Schools have all used six while Lakota has taken a whopping eight and we're still in January.

Harvard University Professor Joshua Goodman was asked by the Massachusetts Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive study measuring the effect calamity days have on test scores. It turns out the impact is minimal.

The study finds that when schools close because of snow or freezing conditions, teachers simply push back lesson plans.

That's the case at Northern Kentucky's Dayton School District, which has used up all of its snow days. Superintendent Jay Brewer tells FOX19 that days taken off now won't negatively impact test scores at year's end because they have to test within the last 14 days of the school year and every time a day gets pushed back the testing window gets pushed back as well.

Meanwhile, Professor Goodman found something else -- something that surprised him.

Keeping kids home on winter days when the weather is bad, but not so bad that schools are forced to close, does in fact lower test scores.

"The worst thing for student achievement is not for the school to close but for the school to stay open and to have half the students absent," Goodman tells FOX19.

The bottom line is this: When it comes to test scores, attendance matters, no matter how bad the weather.


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