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Recess, physical education, and elementary school student outcomes

  • Dills, Angela K.
  • Morgan, Hillary N.
  • Rotthoff, Kurt W.

Today's children experience a decreased amount of time at recess and fewer physical education (PE) classes throughout the school day. Breaks for physical activity limit class time for academics, potentially reducing learning. However, breaks may improve alertness and achievement. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, we evaluate how recess and PE in elementary school influence children's learning. We find no statistically significant or economically significant impacts of weekly recess or PE time on student learning for kindergarteners through fifth graders. For example, in kindergarten, adding an hour a week of recess reduces the average test score gain in reading by a statistically insignificant 0.01 standard deviations. An additional 49Â min per week of PE in kindergarten improves reading test score gains by a statistically insignificant 0.05 standard deviations. We find no statistical difference in the male and female students' response to recess and PE. Evidence suggests that recess and PE do not harm student outcomes.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 889-900

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:889-900
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2007. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence From the German Short School Years," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1216-1242, October.
  2. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. John Cawley & Chad D. Meyerhoefer & David Newhouse, 2005. "The Impact of State Physical Education Requirements on Youth Physical Activity and Overweight," NBER Working Papers 11411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. DeCicca, Philip, 2007. "Does full-day kindergarten matter? Evidence from the first two years of schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 67-82, February.
  5. Marcotte, Dave E., 2007. "Schooling and test scores: A mother-natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 629-640, October.
  6. Fitzpatrick, Maria D. & Grissmer, David & Hastedt, Sarah, 2011. "What a difference a day makes: Estimating daily learning gains during kindergarten and first grade using a natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 269-279, April.
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