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  1. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #1

    Summer setback

    In examining the income
    gap between black and white adults—it is well established that blacks earn significantly
    less—scholars have found that the gap is virtually eradicated if the blacks’ lower eighthgrade
    test scores are taken into account. In other words, the black-white income gap is
    largely a product of a black-white education gap that could have been observed many
    years earlier. “Reducing the black-white test score gap,” wrote the authors of one study,
    “would do more to promote racial equality than any other strategy that commands broad
    political support.”

    So where does that black-white test gap come from? Many theories have been put forth
    over the years: poverty, genetic makeup, the “summer setback” phenomenon (blacks are
    thought to lose more ground than whites when school is out of session)
    , racial bias in
    testing or in teachers’ perceptions, and a black backlash against “acting white.”
    This is a quote from the book Freakonomics. This may not be exactly a language-related question, but I don't exactly understand the bit about the "summer setbacks".

    I had to look up what "to lose ground" meant:

    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English):

    10 lose ground to become less successful compared with someone or something you are competing with : The Indian team seem determined to regain the ground they lost in the last game.
    But what do they actually mean by the summer setbacks?

    Do the authors mean that white people engange in activities that improve their education, while blacks do not? That way whites gain an advantage?
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 10-Jul-2011 at 13:35.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Summer setback

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    This is a quote from the book Freakonomics. This may not be exactly a language-related question, but I don't exactly understand the bit about the "summer setbacks".

    I had to look up what "to lose ground" meant:

    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English):

    But what do they actually mean by the summer setbacks?

    Do the authors mean that white people engange in activities that improve their education, while blacks do not? That way whites gain an advantage?
    A setback is something which puts you back from where you were before. Let's say you practice English every day for a year but then for some reason you go for six months without speaking any English. Your aptitude would diminish. You would "lose ground"! You have suffered a setback - the fact that you have not been able to speak English for six months would cause a problem and leave you less able than you had been six months earlier.

    Another example: A person wants to buy a company. Everything is going well and looking good. However, the person then discovers that there are problems with the accounts (the financial side) of the company. This would be a setback. The company is now not looking as good as it was before so the person might reconsider buying the company.

    Another example: Someone is training very hard to become very good at a sport. Everything is going well, they are improving and the person is very happy with their progress. However, one day they suffer an injury during training. They are told that they must stop training for a month in order for the injury to heal. This is a setback. They have lost a month's training. After that month is over, they will not be as good as they were before the injury so they will have to start training again from a point of slightly lower ability than they were hoping for.

    In the article you quote, it appears that the writer is saying that during the school vacation, black students lose more knowledge/ability than the white students. I make no comment on that claim.

    At the end of the summer semester, let's say that all the students are at the same level - we'll call it level 1 (the top level). After the school vacation, if the students were tested to see what level they are at, it suggests that the white students are either still at level 1 or perhaps level 2, but the black students are shown to be at level 2 or level 3. They do not seem to retain their level over the summer vacation. I don't think it necessarily suggests that white students engage in different activities over the summer vacation which help them to retain their level. It just suggests that for some reason the black students' level slips down further than the white students' level.

  3. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Summer setback

    Thank you for this elaborate explanation.

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