“For many children in America, summer vacation means camp, trips to new or familiar destinations, visits to museums, parks and libraries, and a variety of enriching activities – either with families or as part of a summer learning program. But for millions of others, when schools close for the summer, safe and enriching learning environments are out of reach, replaced by boredom, lost opportunities and risk” (America After 3PM Special Report on Summer, 2010).
Part 1: National Facts about Summer Learning Loss
In the United States today, only 25 percent of school-age children (an estimated 14.3 million children) participate in summer learning programs.
- Based on parent interest in enrolling their child in a summer learning program, 56 percent of all non-participating children (an estimated 24 million children) would likely enroll in summer learning programs.
- Parents of only one-third of children show no interest in enrolling their children in summer learning programs.
- Low-income and ethnic minority children are more likely to attend summer learning programs than other children, but the unmet demand among low-income and minority families are also greatest.
- By an overwhelming margin, parents support public funding for summer learning programs, with the strongest level of support coming from low-income and ethnic minority parents (America After 3PM Special Report on Summer, 2010).
Part 2: Maryland Facts about Summer Learning
- Just 31 Percent of Maryland Children Attend Summer Learning Programs
- An Estimated 358,000 Maryland Kids Would Likely Participate in a Summer Learning Program, Based on Parent Interest
Part 3: Just The Facts and Nothing But The Facts
- All young people experience learning losses when they don't engage in educational activities during the summer.
- Students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer vacation (Reading Is Fundamental, 2011).
- Low-income children and youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher-income peers (Reading Is Fundamental, 2011).
- On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months (Reading Is Fundamental, 2011).
- Low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than 2 months (Reading Is Fundamental, 2011).
- Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and teens. They are more likely to:
- Use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
- Engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors
- Receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who have the opportunity to benefit from constructive activities supervised by responsible adults.
- Without practice, students lose reading skills over the summer months and children from low-income families lose the most (The National Summer Learning Association’s Research website, 2011).
Part 4: An Interview with Dr. Kim James of Harvard University
- Here is a snippet of an interview between Dr. James and The National Summer Learning Association.
Q. So it’s not enough to just give a child a book and expect him or her to read it?
A. Access to reading materials is crucial, of course, but according to our research, that’s not enough, especially in the early elementary school years. Many people are aware that children lose reading skills over the summer and that low-income children fall behind, compared to their more advantaged classmates. We also know that kids who read a lot over the summertime sustain reading comprehension and vocabulary. Consequently, some people conclude that, in order to increase reading skills, we need to increase access to books—but the research indicates it’s not that simple. In fact, in one study, when we gave books to kids but did nothing else, they did no better than the kids who did nothing over the summer. There was no difference.
Part 5: Information, Tidbits, and Knowledge about Summer Learning Loss
- About two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al. 2007).
- Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al. 2004).