Summer? Among other fascinating parts of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” is the research he presents in Chapter 9 about the disparity in educational outcomes between students from different income groups.
He posits this intriguing and provocative conclusion: “Virtually all of the advantage that wealthy students have over poor students is the result of differences in the way privileged kids learn while they are not in school” (p.257-258). Students from families with lower incomes tend to not have educational enrichment over summer and see scores measuring their academic abilities stagnate or drop. In contrast, students from families with higher incomes typically continue learning over summer and improving their academic abilities.
That’s worth repeating. Summer, not the school year, provided the best means for advancing and gaining an advantage. Which makes sense: every student learns during the school year, so it’s relatively difficult to gain an advantage over one’s peers when everyone is learning. Thus, the greatest determinant of who will advance is when most students are not studying. Those that are studying at those times (in summer) will gain an immediate advantage.
And that advantage is significant: 24% of everything the students of parents with high incomes learned academically was from summer academic enrichment, and 89% of the gap in academic knowledge between rich and poor was on account of learning more over summer or not.
The takeaway is obvious: All students should continue learning and honing their academic skills over summer, even if that’s just going to the library and continuing to read. If you would like, we can help. Ask us about our academic enrichment courses. We are committed to helping your children succeed.
- Gladwell, Malcolm, 1963-. Outliers : The Story of Success. New York :Little, Brown and Co., 2008.
- Brookings Institution: “Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it?”
- NWEA: “Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning”
- SAGE journals: “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review”
- LD Online: “Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions”