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Does lengthening the school day increase students’ academic achievement? Evidence from a natural experiment

Francisco Cabrera-Hernández ()

Working Paper Series from Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School

Abstract: Mexican educational authorities face a significant and challenging problem of low achievement in standardized tests applied to pupils in primary schools. This research looks at a Full-Time Primary Schools Program implemented in 2007, to work out if changing the time pupils spend at school and a modification in the structure of teaching can enhance skills in language and mathematics. The results of Differences in Differences (DiD) and Propensity Score Match plus DiD, point to a significant impact of the program with an improvement of 0.11 SD on mathematics and Spanish test scores after four years of treatment. More importantly, these improvements are significantly higher in schools located in deprived areas, ranging from 0.12 SD to 0.29 SD on both subjects after two and four years of treatment, respectively. The impacts also show a significant average decrease in the proportion of students graded as ‘insufficient’, combined with an increase of those graded as ‘excellent’. Further analysis on causal channels shows that policy effects do not come from changes in the composition of pupils in treated schools. These findings are of strong significance when laced into the wider education debate about what works best in schools for improving pupil performance.

Keywords: full-time schools; test scores; school reform; time of instruction; school’s inputs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I2 I21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-ure
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