Seasonal Dynamics of Academic Achievement Inequality by Socioeconomic Status and Race/ethnicity: Updating and Extending Past Research with New National Data



Early studies examining seasonal variation in achievement inequality generally concluded that socioeconomic test score gaps grew more over the summer than the school year, suggesting schools served as “equalizers.” In this study, we analyze seasonal trends in SES and racial/ethnic test score gaps using nationally-representative data from the ECLS-K:2011, which includes more school-year and summer rounds than previous national studies.  We further examine how inequality dynamics are influenced by the operationalization of inequality. Findings are consistent with a story in which schools initially accelerate relatively lower-achieving groups’ learning more so than higher-achieving groups; however, this school-year equalizing is not consistently maintained, and sometimes reverses.  When we operationalize inequality as changes in relative position, the reversal of school-year equalizing is more pronounced. 


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Last updated on 11/18/2016