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 suffer a periodic reduction in performance.
In education, there is a similar phenomenon called “summer slide.” This refers to the loss of learning and 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 contributing variable to learning loss as the lack of access to educational materials. 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:
Two-thirds of the ninth grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years; 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 access to learning resources.
We are extremely fortunate to have free access to a tremendous resource! Public Libraries are available in almost all of our communities.
Literacy is a skill that requires year-long reinforcement. Kids need to be challenged, even in the summer. The best educational summer investment just may include a trip to the library!