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Do Differences in School's Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps in Maths, Science and Language? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries

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  • Victor Lavy

Abstract

There are large differences across countries in instructional time in schooling institutions. Can these differences explain some of the differences across countries in pupils' achievements in different subjects? What is the likely impact of changes in instructional time? While research in recent years provides convincing evidence about the effect of several inputs in the education production function, there is limited evidence on the effect of classroom instructional time. Such evidence is of policy relevance in many countries, and it became very concrete recently as President Barrack Obama announced the goal of extending the school week and year as a central objective in his proposed education reform for the US. In this paper, I estimate the effects of instructional time on students' academic achievement in math, science and language. I estimate linear and non-linear instructional time effects controlling for unobserved heterogeneity of both pupils and schools. The evidence from a sample of 15 year olds from over fifty countries that participated in PISA 2006 consistently shows that instructional time has a positive and significant effect on test scores. The effect is large relative to the standard deviation of the within pupil test score distribution. The OLS results are highly biased upward but the within student estimates are very similar across groups of developed and middle-income countries. However, the estimated effect of instructional time in the sample of developing countries is much lower than the effect size in the developed countries. Several checks for threats of identification support the causal interpretation of this evidence. I obtain very similar results when I use as an alternative data from primary and middle schools in Israel and a somewhat different identification strategy. Finally, I also explore some correlations that suggest that suggest that the productivity of instructional time is higher in countries that implemented s

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  • Victor Lavy, 2010. "Do Differences in School's Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps in Maths, Science and Language? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries," CEE Discussion Papers 0118, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0118
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    File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp118.pdf
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    3. Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markman & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2009. "Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 52-74, February.
    4. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "Targeted Remedial Education for Underperforming Teenagers: Costs and Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 839-874, October.
    5. Machin, Stephen & McNally, Sandra, 2008. "The literacy hour," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1441-1462, June.
    6. Kane, Thomas J. & Rockoff, Jonah E. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2008. "What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 615-631, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kalena E. Cortes & Joshua S. Goodman & Takako Nomi, 2015. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 108-158.
    2. Metzler, Johannes & Woessmann, Ludger, 2012. "The impact of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement: Evidence from within-teacher within-student variation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 486-496.
    3. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext205 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Leonardo Bonilla M., 2011. "Doble jornada escolar y calidad de la educación en Colombia," COYUNTURA ECONÓMICA, FEDESARROLLO, June.
    5. Meyer, Tobias & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2012. "How Important is Secondary School Duration for Post-school Education Decisions? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-509, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    6. Shaun M. Dougherty, 2015. "Bridging the Discontinuity in Adolescent Literacy? Mixed Evidence from a Middle Grades Intervention," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(2), pages 157-192, March.
    7. Kikuchi, Nobuyoshi, 2014. "The effect of instructional time reduction on educational attainment: Evidence from the Japanese curriculum standards revision," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 17-41.
    8. Kuehn, Zoe & Landeras, Pedro, 2012. "Study Time and Scholarly Achievement in PISA," Working Papers 2012-02, FEDEA.
    9. Joshua Goodman, 2014. "Flaking Out: Student Absences and Snow Days as Disruptions of Instructional Time," Working Paper 141961, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    10. Falch, Torberg & Nyhus, Ole Henning & Strøm, Bjarne, 2014. "Causal effects of mathematics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 174-187.
    11. Dörsam, Michael & Lauber, Verena, 2015. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Grades: DiD-Evidence From a German Policy Shift," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Battistin, Erich & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2016. "Should we increase instruction time in low achieving schools? Evidence from Southern Italy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-56.
    13. 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.
    14. Dörsam, Michael & Lauber, Verena, 2015. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Performance," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 140876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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