Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss is the loss in academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation. The loss in learning varies across grade level, subject matter, and family income. A common finding across numerous studies is that on average, students score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning of summer (on the same test). Summer loss for all students is estimated to be equal to about 1 month (Cooper 1996), but this varies across subject matter:

    Mathematics - 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency loss
    Reading- Varies across SES. Low income students generally lose about 2 months of reading achievement. Middle income students experience slight gains in reading performances.

For over a century, scholars have recognized that summer vacation is a period when students’ rate of academic development declines relative to the school year. All children lose academic skills during the summer months, and family socioeconomic status (SES) is highly correlated to the level of academic growth or decline in the summer months. Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.

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