In this paper, we examine the fundamental and complex role that time plays in the learning process. We begin by developing a conceptual framework to elucidate the multiple obstacles schools face in converting allocated time into learning time. We then synthesize the causal research and document a clear positive effect of time on student achievement of small to medium magnitude, but also with likely diminishing marginal returns. Further descriptive analyses reveal how large differences in the length of the school day and year across public schools are an underappreciated dimension of educational inequality in the United States. Finally, our case study of time loss in one urban district demonstrates the potential to substantially increase learning time within existing constraints.
Instructional Time, Learning Time, School Calendar, Student Achievement, Lost Time
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