When bemoaning the United States’ comparatively low scores on international assessments, some are quick to point to one factor that sets Chinese students apart from their American peers: the length of the school day, Sarah Butrymowicz says at The Hechinger Report. How long? Eight hours a day for most students, plus up to four hours of supervised study and tutoring.
China native Yao Zhang, who is completing her Ph.D. in economics and education at Columbia University, described the typical school day: Elementary school, which starts at age 7, runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in most parts of China, with a two-hour midday break. School starts an hour earlier for middle and high school students, who also come back after a two-hour dinner break for evening sessions–from 7 to 9 p.m. in middle school, 7 to 11 p.m. in high school.
Much of the studying is in preparation for the one-shot exams that lead to high school and college, Zhang said. Only about 70 percent of middle school students move on to high school, and 30 percent of high school graduates get to college.
“Lack of sleep is very common for Chinese high-school students,” Zhang said. (Chart by The Hechinger Report.)