Students from low-income families lose about two to three months of reading skills during summer break, according to the National Summer Learning Association. Districts across the country are working to curb the losses with programs that offering fun, engaging activities, such as dance and fencing, with academics to keep students learning during summer months.
In this article, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discusses the "summer slide." He also offers ideas to help curb summer learning loss, such as year-round -- or balanced -- schedules for schools and taking steps to involve parents in learning during school breaks.
Some teachers in Missouri assigned summer reading and math homework for students in an effort to curb summer learning loss. "Unfortunately, reading lists and math reviews are about as good as it gets. And neither provide any control from the teacher to differentiate instruction, tailoring lessons to the needs of students," said Bill Freeman, dean of Fontbonne University's College of Education. Still, one first-grade teacher said she told her students to practice the alphabet and use flash cards for math to help their return to school.
Some districts are prioritizing programs intended to prevent summer learning loss through a mishmash of funding avenues and community-based arrangements. In Chicago, students in kindergarten through second grade who struggle with reading are reading aloud with their parents in the morning before going to school for formal instruction. In Baltimore, middle-schoolers are participating in a summer math academy that teaches real-life applications for academic lessons through hands-on learning.
Researchers say students can lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math over the summer, and educators say students make similar slides in reading. To prevent summer learning loss, educators say students should read 20 to 30 minutes each day and that parents should find ways to apply math in the real world. However, Rod Lucero, assistant director of the Colorado State University's School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation, says if students have truly learned the material, they will not forget it over the summer.