Does Lengthening the School Day Reduce the Likelihood of Early School Dropout and Grade Retention: Evidence from Colombia

Sandra Garcia, Universidad de Los Andes
Camila Fernandez, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Christopher C. Weiss, Columbia University

Previous research on the effects of the length of instructional time has found that academic performance is higher when more time is spent in instruction. However, most research on the topic has focused on academic assessments, such as standardized tests, or on longer-term outcomes, such as wages. Overlooked in these studies are the more proximate measures of schooling that also influence student trajectories. Specifically, as yet, no analysis has focused on the effects of the length of school on the likelihood of grade retention, nor of dropping out of school. We use data from Colombia to examine the effects of a change from half-day schooling to full-day schooling on student outcomes. Family-fixed effects models show that full-day schooling reduces the probability early dropout and grade retention. We complement our analysis with a qualitative case study comparison of schools with high and low dropout rates, and discuss the possible mechanisms underlying these effects.

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Presented in Session 149: New Evidence on School Reforms and Child Outcomes