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What Happens During the School Day?: Time Diaries from a National Sample of Elementary School Teachers


This paper provides large-scale data on the time that is allocated for academic, enrichment, recess, and maintenance activities in American elementary schools and presents some interesting findings about the differences in opportunities afforded to students of different races.

From the abstract: "The education literature contains many studies of what happens in schools and classrooms, but no documentation of what actually happens to children during an entire school day in a nationally-representative sample of students in the US. ...We found wide variation in the length of the school day based on the student and classroom characteristics. Students attending school for the longest day were significantly more likely to be White and have fewer special needs, and to have smaller classes with a larger percentage of White students and a smaller percentage of students of other races than students attending for less time daily. ...We found variations in how students spent their time based on student, family, and classroom characteristics. Teachers of African American students reported spending more time on academic subjects, and less time on enrichment and recess activities than teachers of White students. The same pattern emerged for teachers of more advantaged students, and classrooms with a larger percentage of White students."