The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide an overview of the potential impact summer learning programs have on California’s schoolchildren. Summer programming has become more achievable for districts due to the flexibility provided by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
Summer Learning Loss
School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your kids should stop learning. Researchers have found that kids can lose one to two months of reading and math skills over the summer.
“All young people experience loss of math and reading skills when they do not have opportunities to apply or build these skills,” said Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Campaign Director for Summer Matters. “Over 100 years of research has shown 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.”
Summer Matters is excited to announce the programs participating in our 2017 Summer Matters Site Visits. This is a chance to showcase quality summer programs across the state. The site visits will include an introduction to the program and opportunities to see the staff and youth in action.
The research is clear that summer and after-school programs provide numerous benefits to students. According to a study by John Hopkins University, during the summer months children living in low-resource communities who are not engaged in activities tend to fall into a “summer slide,” while their peers from more economically advantaged communities build skills that will help them succeed. Students without positive summer activities lose nearly two months of competency in reading, and these losses are cumulative. By ninth grade, summer learning loss accounts for nearly two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading. Also well-documented are the negative impacts on health: youth without summer learning programs gain weight at a higher rate than during the school year. This is particularly true for children and youth of color and those who are already overweight.
What could happen when students are engaged with just-right, high-interest books over the summer months? At Orange County Public Schools (FL), a six-week summer reading academy increase average Lexile scores by 44%. In the summer of 2015, South Berwyn, Illinois, a district where 100% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 90% are English language learners, defied the odds and not only avoided summer slide but experienced a significant increase in reading proficiency.
This is the first in a series of articles focusing on strategies to promote student learning and wellness during the summer break from school. This installment presents an overview of the topic and the importance of effective summer programs in helping to close the achievement gap.
I propose that we retool the old summer school model into summer enrichment camps that focus on 21st century skills. These summer programs would employ teachers who have expertise in applying instructional strategies that foster critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills in our students. They would work in partnership with nonprofit and other youth-serving organizations, public libraries and others to provide full-day learning and enrichment camps.
This video, produced by The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, highlights the challenges students from under resourced communities face, including due to a lack of summer learning opportunities.
On August 25, 2016, The Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Science hosted a panel on summertime opportunities in Washington DC. The workshop validated the value of a summer learning approach not only for student academic achievement, but also for students’ health outcomes. A report outlining the workshop was just published.
It has been an amazing year for summer learning. Superintendents and districts across the state have been taking up the mantle to ensure their students have access to high quality summer learning programs. With such momentum and so many people standing up for summer, we are awarding three superheroes this year.