Education is most important in... Summer? | Summit Prep

Education Is Most Important In…

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.


The average kids of the rich and poor learn the same amount during the academic school year.


The average kids of the rich gain a massive advantage from learning over the summer while their peers from poorer families do not improve at all.


The kids of the rich started out with 9% more knowledge. School helped both groups learn, but the kids of the rich gained no advantage. Yet, after four summers, the kids of the rich had 36% more knowledge than the kids of the poor — quadruple the initial advantage and all from learning and improving while others were not.


And that advantage is significant: 24% of everything the students of parents with high incomes learned academically was from summer academic enrichment.

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.



Works Cited:

  1. Gladwell, Malcolm, 1963-. Outliers : The Story of Success. New York :Little, Brown and Co., 2008.
  2. Brookings Institution: “Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it?”
  3. NWEA: “Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning”
  4. SAGE journals: “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review”
  5. LD Online: “Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions”
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