A new study has stated that children lose up to 40% of the progress that they made during the school year whilst being on summer break.
The study was conducted by Allison Atteberry from University of Colorado-Boulder along with Andrew McEachain from RAND Corporation over five years, and was published in the ‘American Educational Research Journal’ on July 9 2020.
This drop-off in progress is a well-known effect of the summer season, referred to as the ‘summer slide’ or else the ‘summer learning loss’.
What is extremely concerning is the extent of the drop-off, as it will strike fear towards what COVID-19 lockdowns could have done to children throughout the world, with some of the children being away from school for as much as seven months, which is more than twice as long as the typical summer break.
This study showed that more than half of the students monitored suffered a learning loss over five consecutive summers.
The difference in the margins is extremely concerning, as whilst some children manage to gain a further 32% of their in-school learning over the summer, other students lost a huge 90% of the material that they learned throughout the year.
Attebery stated that such “Achievement disparities disproportionately widen during the summer,” with some students performing better in the following year, whilst others end up falling short.
She also added that this disparity will be even more evident by “the ‘longer summer’ brought on by COVID-19”.
Going a step further, she added that such summer drop-offs will have a large effect on the future of the children, with this being “just one example of how the current crisis will likely exacerbate income inequality”.
The study looked at the test scores of nearly 18 million American children over the course of five summers, ranging from the age of six all the way to 12.
The researchers conclude that more research is needed in what leads to the variation in performance among students.
The need to recover from the lockdowns is crucial, and several countries are trying to address these differences in achievement.
The UK government has already put aside £1 billion (€1.12 billion) in order to aid in the making up for the lost teaching time, mainly by forming small group tuition.
The study also suggested that what happens out of school hours has the potential to be as influential as what goes on in the classroom, with the imposition of routine being a key factor.
The Maltese government has made it clear that through the opening of SkolaSajf 2020, children will be immersed once again into the daily school life, trying to impose some sort of routine into their lives once again, after months of being stuck indoors.
Plenty of teachers went the extra mile by providing students with online classes that they could attend from the comfort and safety of their own homes whilst the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak in Malta.
Several initiatives were also conducted by the government, such as the postponing and cancellation of several exams, in order to help students to mentally recover during the difficult time of the pandemic.