A Seasonal Analysis of Disparities in Academic Skills for Early Elementary School Children with Disabilities


Studies examining seasonal variation in academic skills for children have focused on learning loss or stagnation during the summer, particularly for students from low-income or minoritized racial and ethnic backgrounds. In this study, we expand the literature to focus on another student population that may be susceptible to summer learning loss: children with disabilities. Using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–2011 (ECLS-K:2011), we examined changes in the academic skills of children with disabilities—defined in terms of having an individualized education plan or receiving special education services—relative to peers without disabilities during the school year and summer months. Results indicate that inequality in learning rates between both groups tends to widen more during the early school years, particularly in kindergarten, than summer. One policy implication of the findings is schools may need to focus more on kindergarten transition for children with disabilities.

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Last updated on 06/14/2022