Summer is the long-awaited season for many Americans, especially students. Aside from summer reading assignments and the occasional extra-credit project, summer is the time when students can collectively take a breather from homework and tests. The break from the school year, however, can bring on the dreaded “summer slump”: a backslide in academic skills when school is not in session. And according to several recent studies, the summer slump can disproportionately affect students of different demographic groups.

Seasonal learning studies aim to measure students’ academic growth over the summer months when most U.S. schools are out of session. These studies frequently look into achievement gaps among student demographic groups, particularly racial and ethnic groups, to measure whether those gaps widen or narrow during the summer.

This is an important question to answer; if achievement gaps between demographic groups change during times when school is out of session, then educators and policymakers have a reason for concern about educational equality during the school year. A large study using data from the Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) has taken a broader, more in-depth look at the summer achievement gap and has uncovered some meaningful results recently published in the working paper “When Does Inequality Grow?: A Seasonal Analysis of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Learning in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade,” by Megan Kuhfeld, Dennis Condron, and Doug Downey.

Read the full article about racial and ethnic disparities in K-8 learning by Alesha Bishop at Getting Smart.