Schools have already endured a wave of weather-related cancellations this winter. Now, to make up for lost instructional time, a few states are considering tagging on makeup days to the end of the semester. Some districts want to cancel spring break altogether.
They may not need to bother. As Emily Richmond notes in The Atlantic, new research from Harvard Public Policy Professor Joshua Goodman finds that makeup days may be unnecessary; based on statewide tests, closing schools barely affects achievement rates.
Schools shouldn't worry too much about weather-related closures, the study suggests, because the negative consequences of staying open often outweigh the benefits of staying open. Even when schools don't close, many concerned parents keep their kids at home. (One mother told The Atlantic, “I don’t want to worry about them on the bus sliding around the road.”) These kids end up falling behind.
Then of course there are the whimsical benefits that lay beyond the scope of the study. The Atlantic reports:
A father who grew up in Connecticut said the snow day had been a rite of passage in his own childhood and he was enjoying sharing the experience with his own kids–at least on a very limited basis.
The bottom line is that snow days are okay. The negative consequences of keeping schools open often outweigh the benefits of a day of class. Oh and, forget “makeup days.”