Amount of instruction per year compared to other countries


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Dec 12, 2013
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The impression that US students compare badly to other countries because of too few school days compared to others isn't valid. In fact, on a hours required/year we're either about average or exceed other countries. Yet test results continue to lag far behind.

"In most countries, there is a significant increase in the time students are required to be in school at the high school level. In the U.S., most states require the same number of hours in high school as in middle school. Just as they did at middle school level, Finland (856 hours) and Italy (1,089 hours) required the fewest and most hours of instruction respectively. Italy’s 1,089 hours surpasses all but 2 out of our 5 selected states. Texas requires 1,260 hours of instruction at the high school level, while California requires 1,080 hours. Korea requires 1,020 hours of instruction at the high school level. Nearly half (22) the states require more instructional hours than Korea. Moreover, the vast majority of states (42) require more hours of instruction than the OECD average of 902 hours. Again, there’s no evidence that students in other countries are required to receive more instruction than students in the United States."
Time in school How does the U.S. compare

Amount of time spent in school doesn't correlate to test performance. One of the suggestions for improving test scores is,

"Low-cost options, like four-day weeks, can prove beneficial to achievement as well. The research isn’t definitive, but some districts that have tried this are seeing unintended benefits in the form of higher test scores, decreased disciplinary problems, greater collaboration among teachers, and higher morale."

There's also a vast difference in cultures making comparisons between the US and other countries an apples and eggplants comparison. Many Asian countries for example overemphasize academics at the cost of morale and mental health. Japan in particular seems to raise workaholics who're overstressed and unhappy. So finding a happy middleground is important in trying to improve US performance. While there's pleanty of room for improvement, we shouldn't try and emulate countries where kids are suicidal over test scores and the like.

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