Research has shown that test-score gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged youth grow substantially after youth begin school and that those gaps continue to grow in the summer months. Some researchers have attributed the exacerbation in achievement gaps to school inadequacies, while others have linked it to family disadvantages. In this descriptive study, von Hippel and Downey want to understand whether racial and economic achievement gaps grow more when school is in session or over the summer. They will examine the size of achievement gaps across racial and economic backgrounds and changes in these gaps over time, using data sets that follow students from at least the first grade until at least the eighth grade. These studies include the Beginning School Study (a 20-year panel study of youth in Baltimore), the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (a nationally representative eight-year panel study), and a large extract from the Growth Research Database of the Northwest Evaluation Association (accelerated panel study panning 14 states). They will consider the reliability of different grade-level assessments and adjust for variations across these tools and changes in the degree of variation observed in student performance as youth progress. Their findings may inform decisions about summer learning or school improvement as strategies to reduce racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.
In this descriptive study, von Hippel and Downey want to understand whether racial and economic achievement gaps grow more when school is in session or over the summer.