The summer learning effect has been identified as a major barrier in creating equitable outcomes in the United States, especially in reading and mathematics. Less is known about the effect in other education systems and subject domains. This research draws on a large sample (N = 4390) to examine the summer learning effect in the comparatively under-researched domain of writing in New Zealand. Results indicate a considerable loss among students despite the relatively short summer break. The drop is substantially larger than the overall summer drop found previously across subjects, and for reading and mathematics specifically. Students from minority ethnic groups showed the greatest drops. Although indigenous students progressed at an equivalent rate than their European peers, the summer drop meant that the gap evident at the beginning of the academic year had widened by the beginning of the next year. At the school level, lower-income schools, which were over-represented by ethnic minority students, were also associated with a greater summer drop even after accounting for ethnicity. The growing inequities created by the effect underscore the importance of addressing this issue. Our findings point to the significance of supporting students’ literacy developments in and outside of school. They call for greater policy attention that would see an examination of the financial and educational resourcing to support schools and families, but also of the access and resourcing of communities in regard to education, libraries and community services.
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We would like to acknowledge the Consortium for Professional Learning who made this study possible by trusting us to explore and develop an understanding of the data gathered during their professional learning project. We also acknowledge the New Zealand Ministry of Education for funding the work of the Consortium for Professional Learning.
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The original version of this article was revised due to an error in Table 1.
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Meyer, F., Yao, E.S. & Meissel, K. The summer learning effect in writing in New Zealand. Read Writ 33, 1183–1210 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-10003-6
- Achievement gap
- Education disparities
- Summer learning effect