School's Out

The Role of Summers in Understanding Achievement Disparities

Published in: American Educational Research Journal (2020). doi: 10.3102/0002831220937285

Posted on RAND.org on July 28, 2020

by Allison Atteberry, Andrew McEachin

Read More

Access further information on this document at Sage Journals

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Summer learning loss (SLL) is a familiar and much-studied phenomenon, yet new concerns that measurement artifacts may have distorted canonical SLL findings create a need to revisit basic research on SLL. Though race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status only account for about 4% of the variance in SLL, nearly all prior work focuses on these factors. We zoom out to the full spread of differential SLL and its contribution to students' positions in the eighth grade achievement distribution. Using a large, longitudinal NWEA data set, we document dramatic variability in SLL. While some students actually maintain their school-year learning rate, others lose nearly all their school-year progress. Moreover, decrements are not randomly distributed—52% of students lose ground in all 5 consecutive years (English language arts).

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.