Later start for school days not flashy policy, but would improve education

August 27, 2014

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement that American high schools should start later in the day for health reasons, reports Dan Weissman of Marketplace Morning Report in the August 25 episode "High school will keep starting too early. Here's why." This is a pedagogical problem, as well as a pediatric one, reports Weissman, citing Brian Jacob's 2011 Brookings Institution study, "Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement."

In the study, Jacob and his colleague Jonah E. Rockoff (Columbia University) argue that efforts to reform the American educational system pay too much attention to "flashy" policy changes and not enough to the everyday organization of the school. Simple changes to school management, according to Jacob and Rockoff, could drastically improve students' learning without costing schools nearly as much as the sweeping changes that reformers regularly propose.

"Among all the things schools could do to increase student performance, this is one of the less expensive ones," Jacob told Marketplace. "This is not like hiring extra teachers to reduce class size, or building a big new expensive building."

Brian Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy at the Ford School. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Ford School's Education Policy Initiative (EPI), which engages in applied, policy-relevant education research designed to improve overall educational achievement and outcomes.

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