More Days in Classroom Does Not Translate Into More Learning in Mexico
ScienceDaily
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April 26, 2013

Stratfor Latin America Analyst Elias Kraushaar explains that Mexico's demographic challenge is to educate and employ its young and growing population. (STRATFORvideo)

As Mexico and other Latin American countries wrestle with improving the quality of education for primary school students, economists at the University of California, Riverside have found that extending the length of the school year in the region will do little to improve student performance on standardized tests. Such policies also have the unintended result of widening the achievement gap between students in impoverished communities and those who attend more affluent schools, the researchers also found.

These findings have significant implications for policymakers in Mexico - and throughout Latin America - where new leaders are making education a top priority as they consider various proposals aimed at improving student performance.

Results of the three-year study, "Test-Mex: Estimating the Effects of School Year Length on Student Performance in Mexico," will appear in the Journal of Development Economics. The study is available online. The research project was funded by UC MEXUS (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States), an academic research institute focused on making positive contributions to society in both Mexico and the United States.

... "Having more days of school when the quality of the school day is poor won't translate into more learning," Agüero explained. "Other Latin American countries are using the expansion of the school year to improve the quality of learning. If our results in Mexico apply to other parts of Latin America, they will not see the benefit they hope for and they will widen the achievement gap. That's not what policymakers want. A longer school day and longer school year are not what is needed. A better school day may be what is needed."

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