Seasonal learning patterns & summer loss
Students don’t learn only during the school year, and academic growth trajectories can change as students move from kindergarten through high school. Academic growth patterns across time—both in school and during the summer—can differ for various groups of students, and those patterns can influence academic achievement gaps. Our research advances understanding of seasonal learning patterns, summer loss, and school and non-school contributions to student growth.
Using achievement data from fall and spring of grades K-8 for 840,000 students in 8,800 public schools, this study provides novel evidence on how achievement and growth differ between rural and nonrural schools. Rural students start kindergarten slightly ahead of nonrural students but fall behind by middle school. The divergence is driven by larger summer losses for rural students. In both rural and nonrural schools, Black–White achievement gaps widen during the school year.
Schools as refractors: Change in variance in children’s cognitive skills change while in school versus out
How does schooling affect inequality in students’ academic skills? This study uses seasonal comparisons to examine the possibilities that schooling exacerbates, reduces, or reproduces overall skill inequality in math, reading, language use, and science with recent national data on US public school students spanning numerous grade levels from the NWEA MAP Growth assessment. Results suggest that schooling has a compensatory effect on inequality in reading, language, and science skills but not math skills. Theoretical implications of findings are discussed.
By: Dennis Condron, Douglas Downery, Megan Kuhfeld
Supporting COVID-19 recovery for students with disabilities: Research findings, policy recommendations, and lessons from the ground
In this webinar by the Alliance for Excellent Education, NWEA, and the National Center for Learning disabilities, learn about recent research on academic growth for students in special education before the pandemic and implications for policies and practices designed to spur COVID-19 recovery.
New research examining academic achievement and growth of students in special education and their peers who were never in special education during each school year and summer in grades K-4 shows that students with disabilities grow as much or more academically during the school year than their peers without disabilities during some years, but that steeper summer learning losses for students with disabilities contribute to widening disparities.
This study compares within- and across-years academic growth for students who were ever in special education (ever-SPED) to students who were never in special education (never-SPED) in grades K-4. Ever-SPED students grew more in math and reading than never-SPED students during many school years, but lost more learning during every summer than their peers, leading to expanding disparities. These findings suggest that summer learning opportunities are crucial for improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities.
Important educational policy decisions, like whether to shorten or extend the school year, often assume that growth in achievement is linear through the school year. This research examines this untested assumption using data from seven million students in kindergarten through 8th grade across the fall, winter, and spring of the 2016-17 school year.
When does inequality grow? A seasonal analysis of racial/ethnic disparities in learning from kindergarten through eighth grade
In this study, we examine seasonal patterns of racial/ethnic achievement gaps in kindergarten through eighth grade using a national sample of over 2.5 million students.
By: Megan Kuhfeld, Dennis Condron, Doug Downey