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Does Making Up Snow Days Matter? Study Says No

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Robbie Owens Robbie Owens
Robbie grew up in northeast Texas, in a tiny town where her fami...
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RICHARDSON (CBS 11 NEWS) - Even in the midst of the pure joy that kids call `a snow day,’ lurks the reality that the cancelled classes will one day come at a cost.

On Friday, Richardson 5th grader Sofia Moran enjoyed the unexpected vacation, while already admitting that she was “kinda hoping we could go to school because I don’t want to make it up later in the year.”

Later, has quickly become sooner.  The Richardson school district will make up last week’s bad weather day on Monday, February 17th.

>>NORTH TEXAS DISTRICTS ANNOUNCE BAD WEATHER MAKEUP DAYS<<

“Typically, earlier in a semester that you’re going to have a makeup day, the more effective it’s going to be for instruction,” says Tim Clark, RISD Director of Communications.  “We have requested a waiver from the State of Texas to not make up our third snow day, that would be on June 6th, which would be the day after the final day of our school year.  That is not going to be as good a day to make up instruction as certainly February 17th would.”

Richardson parents were given roughly a week’s notice that the makeup day was being added to the school calendar—effectively cancelling what would have been a long weekend for students.

“They gotta do what they gotta do,” laughed one RISD parent, as he quickly added, “and we have to do what we have to do.  I’m not canceling the vacation.”

We’re not using parents name—it might look a little suspicious when his son suddenly becomes “sick” on Monday.  “My son does real well in school, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, him missing one day.”

In fact, researchers question if making up the missed day will positively impact student achievement at all.

Two years ago, a Harvard University study looked at the impact of snow days on student achievement and found “closures have no impact.  Absences do.”  In short, researchers concluded that teachers face more of a challenge getting students on the same page following individual absences, rather than when the entire school is closed.

The state requires school districts to build two bad weather days into the calendar.  If they are not needed, the days become holidays for students or perhaps staff development days.  But, some North Texas districts have cancelled classes because of weather three times or more—and winter is not yet over.

Districts can request a waiver for missed days in excess of the two built into the calendar, to avoid financial penalties from the state which reimburses districts based on student attendance.

State education officials—expecting to be bombarded with such requests—today asked districts and charters seeking waivers to wait and submit their requests in March.  After all, the end of winter is still more than a month away.

©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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