Each winter, thousands of school superintendents in the northern half of the United States routinely face the same decision: whether or not to cancel school in light of an impending snow storm. Concerns about student and teacher safety are of course paramount, but in practice are often weighed against the consequences of a lost day of instruction for student learning.
Is there research they could draw on to inform these decisions? And could that same research teach us something more general about the central challenges of teaching and learning in American schools?
In this week’s Education Next podcast, Marty West talks with Josh Goodman, an associate professor of economics at Harvard’s Kennedy School and the author of an EdNext article with a title any student would love, “In Defense of Snow Days.”
Spoiler alert: In the conclusion of the article, Goodman writes: “superintendents watching the weather forecast should consider erring on the side of cancellation when an impending storm is likely be severe enough to substantially disrupt student attendance.” In this podcast interview, he explains why.