Research Shows Fears About Kids’ Learning Loss Over The Summer Were Overblown

A UT-Austin public affairs professor says data from decades ago estimated kids lost two to three months worth of learned material over the summer. But new research shows that may be inaccurate.

By Joy DiazJune 7, 2019 12:19 pm

Some parents and teachers worry that, during the summer, kids will forget much of what they learned during the school year. But new research shows that those fears may not be based on fact, especially when it comes to learning loss for kids who come from socioeconomically disadvantaged families.

Paul von Hippel, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, says the claim by groups like the National Summer Learning Association is that kids lose two to three months of reading and math skills during the summer break. But through his own data analysis, he couldn’t verify that claim. Part of the problem, he says, is that stats about summer learning loss from decades ago have just been regurgitated over the years, despite new data showing a different perspective.

“There’s research from the ’70s and ’80s that seem to show these patterns, and the claims from it have basically gotten repeated,” Von Hippel says. “People have been looking at new data for awhile, but kind of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes.”

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Written by Caroline Covington.