Anyone who’s spent at least two years in school knows how quickly the mental cobwebs can pile up over the summer. In June you’re a test-ready warrior. By September, you might feel like a foggy-headed dunce. Sociologists refer to this decline as the summer setback, and it’s widely cited as one of the most corrosive factors in the achievement gap between low- and high-income students. While low-income kids play games and watch cartoons in the summer, high-income kids go to camp, visit museums, and continue learning. Over time, those incremental advantages can spell the difference between who gets placed into elite colleges and high-paying jobs and who drops out. Some parents and schools have tried to help kids overcome the summer setback with enrichment classes. But others have taken a more radical approach, calling instead for a complete overhaul of the school calendar so that kids attend school year-round. Between 1985 and 2011, the number of US schools with year-round learning increased ninefold, bringing the current total to just shy of 4,000. According to recent research, however, the trend might be misguided. Year-round school doesn’t help with the effects of inequality or erase the summer setback all kids tend to… Read full this story
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