Curriculum

Summer Activities Produce Math, Reading Gains, Research Suggests

September 03, 1997 4 min read

Summer is a time when student academic achievement generally slopes downward, research has shown. But a new study presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference here suggests that some summer activities can help improve children’s test scores.

In the study, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested 250 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in two suburban North Carolina elementary schools at the end of one school year and again at the beginning of the next school year.

During the summer break, the children engaged in a range of activities, including watching television, attending summer camp, and visiting libraries, churches, and shopping malls. The researchers did not judge the worth of each individual activity.

Overall, the students made modest gains on reading and math tests that were given at the conclusion and then at the start of the school year, the researchers found.

Children from wealthier backgrounds tended to make more progress in reading than students from less affluent families, the study found.

Because many students continue to learn--though not at the same pace--when not in school, teachers may not need to spend the first few weeks of school reviewing material from the previous year, said Judith L. Meece, a lead researcher for the study.

“We can no longer assume that kids have a setback in the summer,” Ms. Meece said.

But Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and an expert on summertime learning, said the study’s results cannot be extrapolated to the entire student population because the research sample was largely made up of middle-class students. No control group was used.

In fact, Mr. Cooper said Ms. Meece’s study confirms previous findings that children who come from middle-class families may buck the overall trend of declining achievement during the summer months. “When you send kids to academically oriented activities over the summer, you can expect academics to go up,” he said.

Certain children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely than children without ADHD to commit crimes as adults, according to research presented at the APA’s 105th convention, which was held Aug. 15-19.

In preliminary findings from a longitudinal study, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, followed 230 men in their 20s who had been diagnosed with ADHD since 1974. They found that children who were hyperactive and impulsive—two subgroups of the behavioral disorder--were four times more likely to be arrested as adults than children without ADHD.

By comparison, children with ADHD who were categorized as inattentive were twice as likely to be arrested as children without the disorder.

“Kids with hyperactivity and impulsivity are most at risk for getting in trouble,” said Leslie Babinski, an author of the Berkeley study who is now an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Gathering information on the World Wide Web can be fun, but many people who chronically surf the Internet are addicted--and for other than information-gathering purposes, a study presented here contends.

For “Pathological Internet Use: Psychologists examine who is hooked on the Net and why,” Kimberly S. Young, a psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, interviewed 396 people who were deemed pathological computer users.

People were defined as addicts if they were, for example, preoccupied with the Internet, had trouble controlling their use, lied about their preoccupation to family members or friends, and felt anxious when not using the Internet.

The researchers found that pathological users are typically Internet novices.

Forty-two percent had no permanent jobs, such as high school students, homemakers, or college students; 39 percent worked in low-tech fields; and only 8 percent of the sample worked in high-tech jobs.

The study also found that Internet addicts were most attracted to Web sites not for information but for social support, sexual fulfillment, and to create a persona.

“In cyberspace, a nonsexual person can be sexual, a nonassertive person can be forceful, or an aloof person can be gregarious,” Ms. Young said.

One of the most-talked about subjects during the five-day conference was not research-related, however.

At the opening ceremony, APA officials announced to thousands of audience members that the organization would postpone giving its lifetime-achievement award this year to a renowned psychologist after critics charged that his writings were fascistic.

The New York City-based Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism in Big Rapids, Mich., have claimed that Raymond B. Cattell, a 92-year-old American psychologist who developed many of the standard intelligence and personality tests used today, also promoted eugenics and racial-supremacist theories in his writings.

Mr. Cattell, in a statement last month, said that his philosophies were not racist and that his critics had taken material out of context. Last month, APA set up a special panel to investigate the groups’ claims.

The APA announcement already has had a ripple effect in education circles. The American Educational Research Association, which has an educational research award named after Mr. Cattell, said last week that it would launch an internal inquiry.

“Clearly we are concerned because AERA stands for justice, and we are deeply committed to equity issues,” James A. Banks, the AERA’s president, said last week.

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Whitepaper
The Digital Transformation in Elementary Education
This white paper reports on the impact of this digital transformation, highlighting the resources educators are most likely to use, their...
Content provided by Capstone
Curriculum School Halts Use of Fictional Book in Which Officer Kills a Black Child
Fifth graders in at least one Broward County school were assigned to read a book that critics say casts police officers as racist liars.
Rafael Olmeda, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
5 min read
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff listens during a meeting of the Broward County School Board in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Alhadeff told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that she does not feel like the book "Ghost Boys" is appropriate for 5th graders.
Lynne Sladky/AP
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Whitepaper
Empowering Teachers for Student Success
In this white paper, we highlight 6 best practices for using educational databases and highlight how teachers are effectively using these...
Content provided by Gale
Curriculum Opinion Introducing Primary Sources to Students
Five educators share strategies for introducing primary sources to students, including English-language learners.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty