Guest post by Bob Seidel
This Friday, June 21, is Summer Learning Day. It’s a day to celebrate summer learning successes—and to challenge all of us to make high-quality summer learning opportunities a reality for all who need them.
Why is this so important? If we don’t exercise our brains for an entire summer, we lose much of what we’ve learned. Research shows that, without stimulating summer activities, students tend to lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math. Low-income students also tend to lose more than two months in reading achievement. The cumulative effects of summer learning loss mean that as much as two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap in reading is attributable to differences in summer learning opportunities in the elementary years.
Summertime is also important for young people’s health and nutrition. Without access to organized programs providing opportunities for exercise, young people’s tendency toward obesity becomes aggravated. And among those who receive federally-subsidized meals during the school year, only one in seven receives those meals during the summer.
The good news is that there are effective solutions out there. Research shows that high-quality summer learning programs not only stem summer learning loss, they help students make positive gains. A recently published report from California’s Partnership for Children and Youth, Summer Matters: How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success, showed that during a six-week program in the summer of 2012, students improved their vocabulary by nearly 1.5 grade levels [pdf, 2.9 MB].