The questions around summer learning loss are many! Is it the parent’s responsibility? Does it only affect some children? Will it impact a student’s future? Let’s tackle these questions one by one…
Is summer learning loss a parent’s responsibility?
Yes, AND a school responsibility
Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al. 2004)
Schools must think outside of the school year to support their parents through out the summer months. Parents understand their school year responsibilities – ensure homework is complete, stay engaged in classroom activities, and make sure their children arrive at school ready to learn. However, many parents are ill equipped to create learning materials over the summer or to understand what type of activities they should be engaging in to maintain school year learning.
Does summer learning loss impact ALL students?
YES!!! Every student loses learning.
Summer learning loss is NOT correlated to race, IQ or gender (Cooper, 1996)
It’s just how the brain works – if you do not use information, it can simply be lost or much more difficult to retrieve. Back in the day when we had to memorize phone numbers, it was easier to recall your home number than the number of the dentist you only called twice a year. It is the same for students – if they do not use their spelling skills or practice their math facts, that knowledge is often lost over the summer.
Does summer learning loss impact ALL students the SAME?
NO!!! Low income students lose more learning.
Low-income students lose more than two months in reading achievement, more than other income groups. (Cooper, 1996)
While every student loses math and writing skill because these skills are not widely practiced over the summer, low income students loose much more reading skill than than middle and upper income students. This could be due to a lack of access to reading material, difficulty accessing community resources like libraries, or less familiarity with the message and culture of “summer reading”.
Is a child’s future impacted by summer learning loss?
YES!!! High school achievement is directly impacted.
About two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years (Alexander et al. 2007)
Higher achievement gaps lead to higher high school drop out rates. Students who are more than 3 years behind in reading level, which can be directly correlated to summer learning loss, are significantly more likely to drop out of school. In addition, students who are behind in skill levels are less likely to engage in college prep classes and attend 2 or 4 year degree programs.
The Thinkstretch summer learning program is an effective, affordable and fun way to combat summer learning loss through out elementary school while engaging parents, students and teachers.