Colloquium to consider ways to bridge summer setbacks in learning

School achievement gaps stem partly from inequalities among children’s opportunities to learn outside of school, particularly during the summer, says Scott Davies. Some children entertain themselves over summer breaks from school, while others enjoy a menu of enriching activities.

The “summer setbacks” compound, eroding the literacy skills of disadvantaged children and attributing to an achievement gap by high school, says Dr. Davies, a professor of sociology at McMaster University.

He will discuss the implications for theory and policy in a colloquium entitled “Cultural Capital and Summer Learning Gaps,” Monday, January 30, at 5 p.m. in room 1123, Education Building.

In partnership with Ontario’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Davies co-launched Canada’s first summer learning project and has collected data on thousands of Ontario children in grades 1 to 3.

He says that using a “seasonal learning” design, the project is finding that

  • rates of summer learning loss are substantial;
  • literacy gaps widen between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds during the summer months; and
  • summer literacy programs can reduce achievement gaps.

Dr. Davies’ research revolves around a core theme -- change and inequality in education. He is an associate editor of Canadian Public Policy and has served on the editorial boards of Sociology of Education, American Journal of Education, and Sociological Inquiry.

His presentation today is sponsored by the Faculty of Education as part of its Educational Research Colloquium Series.