Snowed in: the effects of inclement weather closures on AP exam performance
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This thesis examines the impacts of inclement weather days on AP exam scores in public schools, specifically low socioeconomic districts, and the assessment of their current closure procedures. By investigating the potential disruption in scores by inclement weather days, I can create a new dataset in analyzing a field that has yet to be studied through this lens, in addition to advising future policy for district superintendents and state government officials. The areas studied include Massachusetts and Georgia, representing states that are properly prepared for inclement weather closures and are under-prepared for inclement weather, respectively. I use two research methods to fully understand the quantitative and qualitative effects of inclement weather closures. The first is a quantitative analysis of district-level data on inclement weather days and AP exam scores over the past five years. To accomplish this, I contacted public-school districts in the two states involved in the case study to get raw data on school closures and combine this with already available datasets on AP exam score performance. The second is a qualitative account of inclement weather days from teachers and superintendents from districts across both states to establish their opinions regarding school closures and investigate the decision-making process in canceling school. In this qualitative assessment, I observe the roles that socioeconomic status and public transportation, among other factors, play in cancelations. This thesis seeks to challenge the argument proposed by previous research that snow days have no effect on test performance. Previously, this was measured by looking at state-wide exams. By using AP exams as a performance measure instead, a more direct impact on exam scores is expected due to the immovable testing dates and content- specific nature of the exams. Policy recommendations are given to accommodate the negative relationship between closures and test scores, given socioeconomic status.
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