Do Gaps in Test Scores, Behavioral Skills, and Health Grow Faster in School or Out?

Awarded Scholars:
Paul von Hippel, University of Texas
Douglas Downey, Ohio State University
Project Date:
Jan 2016
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Paul von Hippel and Douglas Downey will use new data and better methods to examine the question of how much school and non-school environments contribute to gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Specifically, they will use a seasonal research design embedded in a new national cohort survey to compare how quickly gaps change when school is in session during the academic year versus when school is out for summer vacation. They will explore whether gaps grow faster, on average, during the summer than during the school year.

Data for the analysis come from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011). The study started with 18,174 children in kindergarten during the 2010-11 year and the data released in July 2015 cover the three school years and two summers from the start of kindergarten through the end of second grade. The investigators' analysis will focus on child outcomes that were measured seasonally, that is, near the beginning and the end of each of the three school years. The main outcome variables in this study are test scores in math and reading, behavioral scores related to affect, impulsivity, and attentiveness, and body mass index (BMI).


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