All students, whether high or low achieving, and whether from high-income areas or otherwise, experience the summer slide once school ends for the year. Summer slide has been extensively researched in an attempt to quantify where and how this is happening. While studies vary, reporting by the Brookings Institution shows that the loss is often equivalent to anywhere from one month’s worth of school year learning, to as high as a quarter of the school-year’s learning. Additionally, we tend to see that this worsens in older students, and may be subject specific. Moreover, studies consistently show that students of low-income households and students of color are more greatly affected by learning loss.
Interventions take two forms typically, conventional school-based programs, and more recently home-based remote summer programs.
Conventional Summer Programs
Traditional school-based programs have typically been parents’ first approach to combatting summer slide. Research has found that the quality of these programs varies widely, and thus, the value of them for students. In general, programs that utilize research-founded instruction techniques with professional instructors yield better results. Additionally, programs that incorporate academic learning with experiential or recreational activities, and are in partnership with local community organizations, tend to create more meaningful experiences and lasting learning for students.
Home-Based Summer Programs
Summer school programs are often limited by consistent attendance from their student participants as well as a difficulty in attracting high performing, professional instructors. Alternatively, home-based summer programs exist and can take many forms, from self-directed instruction to simple academic reminders via text and email. These programs have a much lower cost and many studies have shown them to be as effective as an average school-based program, although not comparable to a high quality summer-school program.
Regardless of what approach parents, schools, and nonprofit programs take to addressing summer slide, it is critical that they:
- Utilize evidence-based techniques in designing and implementing the curriculum
- Blend both academic and experiential or recreational activities
- Design the program to encourage consistent attendance
- Invest in professional instructors
- Ensure the programming is not construed as punishment
Interested in learning more about Summer Slide? Read Part Two of this article, which features available community resources.
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