Voices around the state and prominent education officials are calling for Michigan to lengthen its school year and increase the amount of time students spend in class. Unfortunately, this type of reform is misguided since there is no correlation between the amount of time students spend in school and their level of achievement. Michigan instead should focus on implementing reforms that have track records of improving student achievement.
The Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) gauges student performance. Comparing the number of days a school district is in session and its performance on the MEAP test produces interesting results. These results show that there is no statistical relationship between the length of time a school is in session and student performance. In fact, during the 2007-2008 school year, the 20 districts in Michigan with the lowest average MEAP scores averaged 30 more hours of instructional time than the 20 districts with the highest average MEAP scores. Looking at other measures of success produces similar results. For instance, high schools with more days on their school calendar do not produce higher graduation rates than those with fewer days.
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