Moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom may help increase test scores without eating up much instructional time, a new study has found.
, published online this spring, is scheduled to appear in a future issue of the peer-refereed Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Researchers analyzed math and reading scores for 6,353 5th graders at 84 schools in an unnamed 200,000-student high-poverty district. During the study period, the district was in the process of moving its universal, free school breakfast program from the cafeteria to the classroom to make it easier for students to eat their morning meal at school.
Some of the schools moved breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom prior to state exams; others waited until after the testing period had ended.
The researchers found that 5th graders who had the opportunity to eat breakfast in the classroom scored slightly higher in both reading and mathematics than did students at schools that were still serving it in the cafeteria.
But the researchers found no differences in students’ letter grades. The study suggests the results may stem from “improved test performance rather than learning.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 07, 2014 edition of Education Week as Student Nutrition