Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Divergent summers: Measuring the effect-size of summer vacation on reading and mathematics achievement scores for different populations of Maine students
by Mazjanis, Brian I., Ph.D., University of Southern Maine, 2015, 128; 3723188
Abstract (Summary)

This quantitative study of summer learning for Maine students in grades three through grades eight analyzed changes in academic achievement level in mathematics and reading that occurred during the summer recess of 2009.

For mathematics, it appeared that when school was not in session, students showed a cumulative loss of nearly 11 percent of a standard deviation. Although small, the change in performance over the summer was not uniform across all grades studied. For the youngest students in this study, the summer recess represented a time where children collectively lost nearly 40 percent of a standard deviation in mathematics. While gender did not show a statistically significant affect on a child’s mathematics achievement over the summer, a child’s socioeconomic status (SES) did. Taken cumulatively over the course of this study, high-SES children made a cumulative gain of just over one third of a performance level in mathematics as compared to their low-SES classmates.

For reading achievement, it appeared that when school was not in session, students showed a slight gain in reading of just about 2 percent of a standard deviation. Again the change was not uniform: children in the youngest grades of the study appeared to gain in achievement level during the summer, while the oldest children in this study lost nearly 32 percent of a standard deviation. Both gender and SES had a statistically significant impact on a child’s summer learning. Over the five grade spans of this study, high-SES children gained nearly 25 percent of a performance level over their low-SES classmates while female students gained nearly 40 percent of an achievement level over their male classmates.

The patterns of learning exposed in this study for different categories of students during the summertime have meaningful implications for policymakers attempting to close the achievement gap. First, it suggests that efforts to close the achievement gap must include efforts to address out-of-school learning factors. Second, by including the summer learning in their calculations accountability measures that use an annual assessment to measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools at closing the achievement gap contain a substantial error.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Silvernail, David
Commitee: Cummings, Glenn, Fallona, Catherine A.
School: University of Southern Maine
Department: Muskie School of Public Service
School Location: United States -- Maine
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Education Policy
Keywords: Achievement gap, Differential achievement, Learning loss, School accountability, Summer learning, Summer slide
Publication Number: 3723188
ISBN: 978-1-339-05857-3
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