School achievement: Why summer matters

Funding year: 
2 years
Auckland UniServices
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2010
Project end date: 
June 2012
Principal investigator(s): 
Stuart McNaughton
Research team members: 
Dr Rebecca Jesson, Tone Kolose and Sophie Kercher
Research partners: 
The WFRC has an ongoing collaborative relationship with clusters of schools in South Auckland. The specific partnership focused in the SLE is around ongoing inquiry within the schools and research and development focused on raising achievement and sustaining accelerated changes. Seven of these schools are participating in this study.

Project Description

The “summer learning effect” is where students’ school literacy achievement plateaus or declines over summer. This limits students’ levels of achievement over time which can create a barrier to decile 1 schools’ effectiveness. It is a well known effect both within New Zealand and worldwide, but there is limited research evidence on how to overcome it. Our aim was to identify factors that may help overcome the summer learning effect in reading in decile 1 schools in New Zealand.

Key Findings

  • The summer learning effect was confirmed as a major barrier to ongoing achievement: the gains made over the school year disappeared.
  • Specific preparation by teachers for students and guidance for their parents were associated with a lower summer learning effect.
  • When implemented fully, a three-component intervention designed from local evidence was associated with essentially no summer learning effect.


Project Contact

Stuart McNaughton
Faculty of Education
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92601, Symonds Street
Auckland 1150