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ERIC Number: ED529884
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 56
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 28
ISSN: ISSN-2045-6557
Do Differences in School's Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps in Maths, Science and Language? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries. CEE DP 118
Lavy, Victor
Centre for the Economics of Education (NJ1)
There are large differences across countries in instructional time in public schooling institutions. For example, among European countries such as Belgium, France and Greece, pupils aged 15 have an average of over a thousand hours per year of total compulsory classroom instruction while in England, Luxembourg and Sweden the average is only 750 hours per year. For children aged 7-8 in England, Greece, France and Portugal average instructional time is over 800 hours per year while in Finland and Norway it is less than 600 hours. Similar differences among countries exist in the number of classroom lessons per week in different subjects as evident from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 2006 data. For example, pupils aged 15 in Denmark are exposed to 4 hours of instruction per week in math and 4.7 in language, while pupils of the same age in Austria have only 2.7 hours of weekly classroom lessons in math and 2.4 in language. Overall, total weekly hours of instruction in math, language and science is 55 percent higher in Denmark (11.5 hours) than in Austria (7.4 hours). Similar magnitudes of disparities in instructional time are observed among the Eastern European and developing countries that are included in PISA 2006. Can these large differences explain some of the differences across countries in pupils' achievements in different subjects? What is the likely impact of changes in instructional time? This later question is of policy relevance in many countries, for example, it became very concrete recently in the US as President Barrack Obama argued that American children should go to school longer, either to stay later in the day or into the summer. He announced the objective of extending the school week and year as a central element in his proposed education reform for the US. The simple correlations and the simple OLS regression relationship between classroom instructional time per week and test scores of pupils aged 15 in the 2006 PISA exams in math, science and language are positive and highly significant. Of course, these correlations do not represent causal relationships because of potential selection and endogeneity. In this paper, the author investigates the causal relationship between instructional time and pupils' knowledge in these subjects. In the last section of the paper the author also examines what factors can explain part of the variation across countries in the marginal productivity of classroom instructional time. The author focuses in this analysis on structural features such as accountability, autonomy and governance of schools. Exact Wording and Format of Questions from PISA student's and School Questionnaires Used in the Paper are appended. (Contains 18 tables and 11 footnotes.)
Centre for the Economics of Education. London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Tel: +44-20-7955-7673; Fax: +44-20-7955-7595; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 5; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: London School of Economics & Political Science, Centre for the Economics of Education
Identifiers - Location: Israel
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment