Summer vacation is bad for kids — especially low-income kids, writesMatthew Yglesias on Slate. Middle-class kids may go to camp, play sports or travel, while poor kids sit at home with the TV. That creates “massive avoidable inequities,” he argues.
A 2011 RAND literature review concluded that the average student “loses” about one month’s worth of schooling during a typical summer vacation, with the impact disproportionately concentrated among low-income students
“While all students lose some ground in mathematics over the summer,” RAND concluded, “low-income students lose more ground in reading while their higher-income peers may even gain.” . . . Poor kids tend to start school behind their middle-class peers, and then they fall further behind each and every summer . . .
A majority of the achievement gap between high- and low-socioeconomic-status students in Baltimore can be attributed to differences in summer learning loss, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.
“School is important,” concludes Yglesias. “It should happen all year ’round.”
Some urban districts are “blending academics with recreational activities” to prevent summer learning loss, reports EdSource. Most enrichment programs are run by nonprofits and supported by federal or state funds and foundation grants, not by district funds.
Traditional remedial summer classes can be “pretty grim,” said Katie Brackenridge, senior director for expanded learning initiatives with the Partnership for Children and Youth, whose “Summer Matters” campaign pushes for expanded summer programs. “Part of it is that kids already walk in the door probably not liking learning so much, and that’s how they got stuck in remediation in the first place. We’re looking at how do you make those learning opportunities engaging.”
Seventh graders at Oakland Unified’s Coliseum College Prep Academy visited San Francisco’s Exploratorium, then used baking soda and calcium chloride to explain chemical reactions to the eighth graders.
Santa Ana-based THINK Together offers summer enrichment programs to nearly 13,000 students in 10 school districts throughout the state.
Enrichment programs typically run about six weeks and are offered for as long as six hours a day. Mornings are traditionally spent on academics, while the afternoons are dedicated to hands-on STEM studies – science, technology, education and mathematics programs – arts and crafts, lab work or sports.
According to a Summer Matters study, How Summer Learning Strengthens Student Success, students raised their vocabulary skills as much as one-third of an instructional grade in six weeks and improved their attitudes about school and reading.
Funding summer enrichment programs for disadvantaged and struggling students is a lot cheaper than extending the school year by one or two months.