Monday, June 18, 2007

Stopping the Summer Slide

sliding board
Image © stock.xchang (
The more learning that children and teens do during the summer, the better prepared they are to re-enter the classroom in the fall. When learning stops during the summer, these students suffer from what is referred to as the summer slide—a loss of ability and knowledge from the close of school in the spring to the reopening in the fall. As a result, teachers end up reviewing and re-teaching information covered in the previous school year to bring students back up to grade level. Children may be 1–3 months behind when they return to the classroom.

Naturally, the learning loss varies by grade level and content area as well as by socioeconomic status. The Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University reports that “On average, children from low-income families lose nearly three months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months each year, compared to an average of one month lost by middle-income children when reading and math performance are combined.” Because of this socioeconomic factor, summer learning loss contributes to the achievement gap for children of low-income families.

The Detroit Free Press article “Keep Kids Learning All Summer” reports that these losses matter even more in states like Michigan that require children to take achievement tests in the first months of the new school year. Quoted in the article, principal Jo Kwansy of Boulan Middle School explains bluntly, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

The solution? Summer learning activities that support and develop children’s skills like the following:

4 comments: said...

What I don't understand is the actual repercussion to a child who does not study during the summer months.

Outside of academics and the measurements of standardized tests, I don't see any negative outcome.

Anonymous said...

Ha, just think about what adults forget once we graduate and are through with school. It seems to me that these peaks and valleys are part of the recursive nature of education and should not be alarming. That is life. You forget what you do not need to remember.

Another way to think about this is: Why is school so irrelevant to what these kids do in the summer as they live their lives that they forget what WE think they should remember??? Maybe we educators should think about our practice rather than trying to find new ways of forcing kids to meet our expectations. Maybe we should wonder what this is telling us about our precious content.

So, we shouldn't worry if students "regress" a little over the summer. Life is long. Maybe it is not regression at all, but other kinds of learning. Education needs to adjust to become a lifelong experience.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous, you're an idiot. Not only are students regressing during summer breaks, their idiot school systems are implementing 4X4 scheduling so that students may have four 90 minute-classes from August through December, and then not have any of those courses again for a full calendar year again. The amount they lose in that amount of time is significant. The College Board has done tests to prove the inadequacy of this system, and on top of this, you want to suggest that students don't do any reading over the summer? Dumb and Dumber comes to mind. Yes, depending on our abilities, we forget a significant portion of our learning if not continually re-exposed; however, you're suggesting that we accept this and continue to decline intellectually? You're suggesting that we continue to drop from the status of 28th in the world intellectually? You're suggesting that we accept the stupidity of our system allowing students to graduate with a 3rd grade education because of a sorely perverted "No Child Left Behind" act? You're suggesting that we accept the standards we have. You're an idiot. We need schooling for our future chefs, plumbers, electricians, and hairdressers. We need respect for all these professions. We need to change the educational system so that those who go to college may do something with their degrees other than become incompetent teachers at local high schools and continue to lower the standards even further. We need to accept the idea that it's acceptable to fail students, and that their failure in one arena may lead them to another more suitable for them, ummmmmm --like life does. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that we will get anywhere in changing the educational system if we call people "idiots." On to more important matters. Our educational system is broken in certain areas. There definitely is regression during the summer months and ALL teachers know this. Many areas of the country try to alleviate this problem through summer enrichment programs and extended school years. Do these help? The jury is still out because the programs from community to community have different designs and different intentions. I personally support going to school during the summer months but it would not be simple for the whole country to make this move. First we have to have a government who supports it and gives the educational system the money and support to pull it off. Teacher contracts would need to be renegotiated and this takes time. Also there are plenty of schools who today do not have air conditioning. Learning won't happen if the students are ready to expire. There is a big problem of government talking out both sides of its mouth. You can not stand behind the podium and say the educational system needs to be held accountable for low test scores and not being able to compete in the world but strip away federal funding that would help the system keep up with the world. If improvements are to be made to the educational system you need money and support; not finger pointing stating that is it all the teachers fault that this nation is falling behind others. The entire educational system needs to be overhauled but unless there is state and federal backing it will never happen. And stop blaming the teachers. The makeup of a typical classroom is: divorced families, non english speaking learners, ADD and ADHD children, foster children, abused children, latch key children and classrooms who have too many children in them and not enough teacher's helpers. All of the children in these "typical" classrooms all should have a chance to learn in a perfect environment. There is not such a thing anymore. Educators are expected to deal with a wide range of situations in the classroom, no questions asked. Politicians, families and society as a whole needs to look inside itself for some of the answers instead of passing the buck. School in the summer would be beneficial for everyone. But let's face it. When it comes right down to it, not that many people really care.