School Year Length and Student Performance: Quasi-Experimental Evidence

38 Pages Posted: 26 May 2013

See all articles by Benjamin Hansen

Benjamin Hansen

University of Oregon - Department of Economics; NBER; IZA

Date Written: October 20, 2011


This paper investigates the impact of instructional days on student performance. Because school year length is endogenously determined, I estimate the causal impact of school year length through two quasi-experiments that exploit different sources of variation in instructional days. The fi…rst approach identifies school year length’'s effect through weather-related cancellations in Colorado and Maryland. Weather-related cancellations are made up at the end of school years, allowing relatively large ‡fluctuations in instructional days within school districts prior to test administration. Because school cancellations are not recorded for past school years, this data limitation is overcome by using two-sample indirect least squares. The second identi…fication strategy takes advantage of state-mandated changes in test-date administration in Minnesota, which moved 5 times in 5 years. The results are similar for either source of instructional day variation: more instructional time prior to test administration increases student performance. The effects are consistent across various thresholds of performance and grade levels.

Keywords: School Year Length, School Quality, Student Performance, Natural Experiment, Quasi-Experiment

JEL Classification: I20, I28, J08

Suggested Citation

Hansen, Benjamin, School Year Length and Student Performance: Quasi-Experimental Evidence (October 20, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Benjamin Hansen (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

1285 University of ORegon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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IZA ( email )

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