Cumberland Times-News

March 15, 2014

Just finish it

Extending school year due to snow days waste of time


Cumberland Times-News

— It’s doubtful that many students learn much when the school year extends into the hot days of mid-June or even beyond. So we support the Allegany County Board of Education in its bid to have some of the snow makeup days waived by the Maryland State Board of Education.

The local board voted last week to ask the state to waive five of the 15 days schools were closed because of snow or inclement weather. If the waiver is approved, the last school day in Allegany County will be June 10.

Maryland schools are required to have a 180-day school year for students. This winter has been especially cold and snowy and schools throughout Maryland are asking the state board to ease the 180-day requirement.

Just because students have missed a high number of school days because of weather cancellations does not necessarily mean they suffer academically. Joshua S. Goodman, assistant professor of public policy who teachers empirical methods and the economics of education at Harvard University, found in a study that calling a snow day may be better for student performance than convening classes during bad weather.

When schools are closed because of bad weather, all students miss out. But when schools are open despite dismal weather, some parents choose to keep their kids home anyway. Goodman’s study found that student performance loses less ground when everybody stands home on a snow day than when schools open and many students don’t show up. Teachers are able to better deal with catching up an entire class than a handful of students.

As for holding classes well into June, it’s probably safe to say students don’t get much benefit. They are antsy to start summer vacation — and so are families and teachers.