Black–White Summer Learning Gaps: Interpreting the Variability of Estimates Across Representations

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28 Scopus citations


The estimation of racial test score gap trends plays an important role in monitoring educational equality. Documenting gap trends is complex, however, and estimates can differ depending on the metric, modeling strategy, and psychometric assumptions. The sensitivity of summer learning gap estimates to these factors has been under-examined. Using national data, I find Black–White summer gap trends ranging from a significant relative disadvantage for Black students to a significant relative advantage. Preferred models show no overall gap change the summer after kindergarten, but Black students may make less summer math growth than White students with similar true spring scores. In estimating gap trends, researchers must recognize that different statistical models not only carry unique assumptions but also answer distinct descriptive questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-69
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Research for this article was supported by the Dean’s Summer Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


  • achievement gap
  • Black–White test score gap
  • gap measurement
  • gap trends
  • summer loss
  • summer setback


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