According to a study from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, snow days have no negative effects whatsoever on student performance. In fact, closing schools when inclement weather strikes may actually help keep kids on track.
Assistant Professor of Public Policy Josh Goodman claims that widespread absences on days when schools remain open, like those seen throughout New York City public schools on Wednesday, are the real culprit when it comes to hindering achievement.
"When you close school for a day, that's not a very hard thing for a teacher to deal with because all the teacher has to do is push their lesson plans back a day and maybe down the road eliminate something like a field trip or some optional activity that has to go," Goodman said. "What's harder for a teacher to deal with is when school is open, but some substantial number of your students are absent from the classroom."
Goodman looked into the effects of weather related disruptions at the request of the Massachusetts Department of Education. He examined attendance data and standardized test scores from 2003 to 2010 for students across the state in grades three through ten.
A former high school math teacher, Goodman says he was initially surprised by his findings. He won't start advocating for more snow days anytime soon, though. Goodman argues that teachers and administrators instead need to think more critically about how to deal with absences by finding creative solutions to help students make up missed work without affecting overall classroom progress.