Stop summer slide… visit a library!

In small towns most kids who choose to participate in sports do not specialize in a certain sport. Right now in USD No. 113 communities, youth softball and baseball coaches are practicing with players to get them ready for their first games.

Not surprisingly, at the beginning of the season, players’ skills are not at the level they were when season ended the year before. There is a considerable amount of “catch-up” to do. During the off season, if young athletes do not practice their skills they lose some of their skills and mental learning during their time away from the game.

In education there is a phenomenon called “summer slide.” This refers to the loss of learning and learning-related skills during the summer months. Research has been very consistent in identifying summer vacation as a time that learning not only tends to stop, but students actually lose progress that was made the previous year.

Research has identified a significant difference between children with access to educational materials and those who do not. The lack of access to materials is most common for children from low income families. This contributes to the achievement gap between children from low socio-economic families compared to medium or high socio-economic families.

Most of the research indicates that this loss that occurs in the summer has a compounding effect. A study published in 2007 by the American Sociological Review asserts that two-thirds of the ninth grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years; and nearly one-third of the gap is already present when children begin school.

Scholastic, a company that specializes in educational products, provides the following statistics:

• Teachers typically spend between four to six weeks re-teaching material students have forgotten over the summer.

• It is estimated that the “Summer Slide” accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle- and upper-income peers.

• During the school year, lower income children’s skills improve at close to the same rate as those of their more advantaged peers, but over the summer, middle- and upper-income children’s skills continue to improve, while lower income children’s skills do not.

• Third graders who can’t read on grade level are four times less likely to graduate by age 18 than a proficient reader.

What can we do to fight against summer learning loss?

USD No. 113 schools are combating learning loss with our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) – attempting to intervene at the earliest possible stage. This is a reactive step.

In order to be proactive, we want to be intentional about providing all of our kids with meaningful learning resources. We are extremely fortunate in our communities to have a tremendous resource! Public libraries are available in almost all of our communities. Public Libraries are available in the USD No. 113 communities of Axtell, Bern, Sabetha and Wetmore.

Kids want structure. They want to be challenged, even in the summer. The most valuable summer vacation just may be a trip to the library!

Todd Evans26 Posts

Todd Evans currently serves as Superintendent of Prairie Hills USD No. 113 in Kansas. USD No. 113 operates Pre-K through 12 schools in the communities of Sabetha, Wetmore and Axtell.

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