NAGB Header Image

TIME FOR LEARNING: An Exploratory Analysis of NAEP Data and Appendix

TIME FOR LEARNING: APPENDIX - A State by State and Urban District Analysis

This Appendix provides a State by State and Urban District analyses of the associate between student absenteeism and NAEP mathematics achievement levels. It provides additional infomation the NAEP report, which uses NAEP background data to track time and learning since the mid‐1990s in three areas: student absenteeism; classroom instructional time in mathematics, reading, music and the visual arts; and homework time expected by teachers.

Key report findings are:

  • Students with higher rates of monthly absenteeism score disproportionately at the Basic or below‐Basic levels of NAEP achievement for grades 4, 8 and 12. About one‐quarter of below‐Basic students were absent three days or more a month in 2011, which translates into missing more than five weeks of school over a year. By contrast only one‐in‐ten Advanced students were absent three or more days a month. Given the strong association between student achievement and absenteeism, it is sensible for schools to focus on improving the attendance of lower‐achieving students with high absenteeism rates as part of their efforts to boost academic achievement. However, the NAEP data show that there was little or no change in the percentage of students absent 3 or more days between 1994 and 2011.
  • Average weekly instructional time is greater in reading than in mathematics. Instructional time in both subjects declines markedly from grade 4 to grade 8.
    • Mathematics and reading instructional time has increased at both grades 4 and 8 since the mid‐1990s, but 40 to 50 percent of grade 8 students still spend less than five hours per week on these two core subjects.
    • At grade 8, over half the below‐Basic students on NAEP achievement levels spend less than five hours a week (i.e., less than an hour a day) on mathematics instruction; about 40 percent of these lowest‐achievers spend less than an hour a day on instruction in reading‐language arts.
  • The frequency of instruction in music and the visual arts—when measured by the number of times these subjects are taught at grade 8 each week—did not decline between 1994 and 2008, as some education experts have suggested.
  • More homework time is expected by teachers at grade 8 than at grade 4, but the amounts have not changed markedly between the mid‐1990s and 2011 despite the pressures from No Child Left Behind. Black and Hispanic students are expected to spend somewhat more time on homework than Whites—perhaps a response by teachers to lower average achievement—but American Indian students, also a lower scoring group, are not given more homework than White students. 2

It is recommended that the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) consider further exploratory analyses. The priority should be to report time use for individual states and urban districts participating in NAEP and for additional subjects, especially science. The additional reports could form part of a series, possibly entitled NAEP Portraits of American Education, which would include reports based on other background variables as well. To provide data for a comprehensive analysis of students’ time for learning, NAGB should consider extending the background questionnaires to cover the length of the school day, the length of the school year, and learning‐related activities beyond the regular school day, both formal and informal. Consistency of wording with the major international assessments of PIRLS, PISA, and TIMSS should also be explored.

Download a PDF of the Appendix - Time for Learning: States and Districts: Appendix

Download a PDF of the report