Mission Readiness recently released a report explaining why the military cares about summer learning loss. Retired military leaders are warning that summer learning loss is reducing the number of high school graduates eligible for military service. “The perilous combination of academic losses and rapid weight gain during the summer months” is a major contributor to three out of every four adults being ineligible for the Armed Forces because they are poorly educated or are overweight. A seminal report issued by Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit, nonpartisan national security organization of more than 300 retired generals, admirals and other military leaders, identifies summer learning loss as a national security threat.
ThinkStretch agrees with Mission: Readiness’ assessment of the negative impact of summer learning losses on a students’ academic futures and outcomes. As the report points out, less fortunate children are most at risk with summer learning loss “accounting for as much as two-thirds of the total gap in [low income students’] academic achievement compared to their more advantaged peers.”
The gap between opportunities available to more advantaged children versus less advantaged children belies the iconic ideal of the Tom Sawyer summer of outdoor freedom for all. Many students in lower socio-economic classes are stuck indoors, due to dual working parents, neighborhoods lacking safe play spaces and a dearth of organized enrichment activities. More advantaged children have enriching summers of swim leagues, book reading, museums and travel.
Mission: Readiness recognizes that summer is more than half the problem in the poor academic performance of many low income students. “Schools cannot fully recover the academic setbacks that too many children suffer each summer.” Yet because the area of summer academics is studied at a rate of only 1 in every 10,000 published studies, it is difficult to identify specifically what happens to children over the summer, and what innovations will work to help them succeed.
Several factors, however, have been identified as having strong potential to prevent academic skill loss during the summers. ThinkStretch is proud to incorporate these factors in its summer learning program.
- Parent involvement – programs with a parent involvement component were associated with more positive achievement effects.
- Increased home reading – approaches that required home reading of free choice books demonstrated improved reading scores on par with attending summer school.
- Parent coaching for reading – teaching parents how to interact with student reading, including comprehension and basic reading skills showed tremendous benefits for summer home reading.
Mission: Readiness concludes that a combination of approaches is likely the best produce the best results. As our schools, legislators and now military leaders join voices to address summer learning loss, ThinkStretch is poised to advocate and educate on this crucial issue for our children’s future.
While the root causes and best practices for decreasing summer learning loss continue to be researched and studied, ThinkStretch is proud to be on the leading innovative edge of education with a summer learning program that incorporates parent involvement and coaching, free choice reading and broad based academic skill review.