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Spending more of the school day in math class: Evidence from a regression discontinuity in middle school

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  • Taylor, Eric

Abstract

For students whose math skills lag expectations, public schools often increase the fraction of the school day spent on math instruction. Studying middle-school students and using regression discontinuity methods, I estimate the causal effect of requiring two math classes—one remedial, one regular—instead of just one class. Math achievement grows much faster under the requirement, 0.16–0.18 student standard deviations. Yet, one year after returning to a regular one-class schedule, the initial gains decay by as much as half, and two years later just one-third of the initial treatment effect remains. This pattern of decaying effects over time mirrors other educational interventions—assignment to a more skilled teacher, reducing class size, retaining students—but spending more time on math carries different costs. One cost is notable, more time in math crowds out instruction in other subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Taylor, Eric, 2014. "Spending more of the school day in math class: Evidence from a regression discontinuity in middle school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 162-181.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:117:y:2014:i:c:p:162-181
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.06.002
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    2. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. repec:bla:coecpo:v:36:y:2018:i:2:p:255-262 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Huebener, Mathias & Kuger, Susanne & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Increased instruction hours and the widening gap in student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-34.
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    6. Martins, Pedro S., 2017. "(How) Do Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Adolescent School Achievement? Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 10950, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Joshua Goodman, 2017. "The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory High School Math Coursework," NBER Working Papers 23063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Cassette, Aurélie & Farvaque, Etienne, 2016. "A dirty deed done dirt cheap: Reporting the blame of a national reform on local politicians," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 127-144.
    9. Martins, Pedro S., 2017. "Can Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Achievement? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from EPIS," GLO Discussion Paper Series 105, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    10. Dahmann, Sarah C., 2017. "How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional time versus timing of instruction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 35-47.
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    12. John P. Papay & Eric S. Taylor & John H. Tyler & Mary Laski, 2016. "Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data," NBER Working Papers 21986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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