School Calendar Flexibility Report No. 2017-01 Low-income students experience greater disparities in learning due to the cumulative effects of summer learning loss despite the fact that they learn at the same rate as their peers during the school year. Although home environments and the resources within them differ based on income level, peer-reviewed research suggests that schools offer a space of equalization. Students typically learn at about the same rate during the school year regardless of income level, which means that summer learning loss contributes significantly to the overall gap in learning between lower and higher income groups over time. The first few years of learning are particularly important because they build the foundation for later learning; in other words, early summer learning loss contributes to greater losses later in a student’s academic career. Without interventions, Exhibit 24 shows how these deficits accumulate over time and cause considerable issues as students get further behind each school year. Page 31 of 38
Exhibit 24: Summer Learning Loss Accumulates Over Time and Is More Pronounced for Low-Income Students Achievement Gap Grows Middle-Class Student Achievement Gap Disadvantaged Student Regular Summer Regular Summer School Year Break School Year Break 1 st Grade 2 nd Grade Source: Program Evaluation Division based on the research of and interviews with Dr. Harris Cooper, the Hugo L. Blomquist Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University.