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Summer Learning Gaps Worsen in Higher Grades, Just Not the Way You Think

By the end of middle school, students may lose a third to half of what they learn during the year to the so-called "summer slide." "As kids grow less and less during the school years, they are still seeing the same summer drop—so they are losing proportionately more," said Megan Kuhfeld, a research scientist at Northwest Evaluation Association. Previous studies have found low-income and minority students often lose more ground during the summer than middle-class and white students. In other studies, Kuhfeld found both white and black students and those of different income levels lost academic ground over the summer. It does not seem to be primarily driven by this. Instead, differences between students at different schools explained the overwhelming majority of the overall summer-learning gaps. Kuhfeld plans to expand the study to up to 40 participating states and to release deeper analyses of racial and socioeconomic trends in the coming months. Read More