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Summer Learning vs. Summer Slide

posted Nov 24, 2015, 10:16 AM by Damon Cawley   [ updated Nov 24, 2015, 10:25 AM ]

When we compared the STAR reading scores from the spring to the scores from this fall, here is what we found:

  • Barnet had comparison data for 22 out of the 34 students who attended this summer.  Of the 22, 10 improved their reading level, 10 maintained their reading level, and 2 did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  • Danville had comparison data for 11 out of the 23 students who attended this summer.  Of the 11, 1 improved their reading level, 8 maintained their reading level, and 2 did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Peacham had comparison data for 8 out of 10 students who attended this summer.  Of the 8, one improved their reading level, 6 maintained their reading level, and one did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Walden had comparison data for 14 out of 16 students who attended this summer.  Of the 14, 6 improved their reading level, 7 maintained their reading level, and one did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Overall, 33% improved their reading level, 56% maintained their level and 11% did not maintain their reading level over the summer.

 


Summer is a critical time when students either leap ahead or fall behind:

  • During the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning obtained during the school year.
  • This is especially true for children from low-income families.
  • More than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer because they lack access to books, learning resources, and such enrichment opportunities as trips to the library, bookstore, or museum.
  • Students who lose reading ability over the summer rarely catch up.
  • Over time, the summer learning slide can add up to the equivalent of three years of reading loss by the end of fifth grade. (Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., and Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72 (4): 167–180.)

To succeed in school and life, children and young adults need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months.

Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when "kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries.

Unfortunately, some youth face anything but idyllic summer months. When the school doors close, many children struggle to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

Did You Know?

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004). 
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996). 
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007). 
  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children - particularly children at high risk of obesity - gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007). 
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).

What are the needs for summer learning programs?

·         Children need summer programs:
  • Vermont currently serves an estimated 31,529 children through summer learning programs, but nearly the same number (30,512) do not have access to programming.
·         Programs need funding to grow:
  • 46% of 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Vermont do not currently offer summer learning programs. These programs are poised to offer programming, but often lack the funding to do so.
·         Schools need support to offer services:
  • Within public schools in Vermont, only 31% offer academic enrichment programs in the summer, 34% offer remediation, and a mere 27% provide tutoring services.
·         Families need access to programs:
  • Parents are looking for summer learning opportunities for their children. 43% of parents without access to a summer learning program for their child would be interested in enrolling their child if a program were available.

During the summer months too many children, especially disadvantaged children, lose academic ground and suffer what’s known as the summer slide. Summer slide results in students falling further behind academically and widens the academic achievement gap. Summer learning programs, often run by afterschool providers, keep kids on track. These programs also provide critical support to working families by keeping kids safe and offering healthy meals and snacks.

1.    Poverty

  • The gap between the poor and the wealthy continues to widen and low-income students in Vermont consistently perform at significantly lower levels academically. 1
  •  Parents with the means invest more time and money than ever before in their children while lower-income families are increasingly stretched for time and resources. 2

2.    Equity

  • All children and youth in Vermont deserve a summer filled with rich learning opportunities.
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. 3

3.    Access

  • Over 30,000 children and youth in Vermont do not have access to summer learning programs. 4
  • It is important for every child to learn during the summer to avoid losing skills they have gained during the school year. 5

4.    Solution

  • All communities in Vermont need high-quality summer learning programs to ensure that our children and youth thrive.

1 Vermont Department of Education. School Data and Reports: NECAP Assessment Report.
2 Reardon, S.F.  (2011). The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations.
3 National Summer Learning Association. (2009). Research In Brief: Summer Can Set Kids on the Right – Or Wrong – Course.           
4 Afterschool Alliance. (2010). America After 3PM Special Report of Summer: Missed Opportunities, Unmet Demand.           
5 National Summer Learning Association. (2012). Summer Learning Day Key Messages and Story Angle.          

http://197yqv2yy2wnqk9ni14nx82z.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Summer-Learning-Talking-Points.pdf

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