Summer Learning Can Be a Game Changer
The recent commitment by school leaders in five states to add 300 hours of learning time for students is an important step forward for a public education system that too often is cutting back on the very school hours that our children need to achieve and grow. The project, called the TIME Collaborative , will bring the expanded hours to nearly 20,000 students in 11 districts in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Tennessee, with support from the Ford Foundation and technical assistance from the National Center on Time & Learning. We urge these states and school districts, along with others around the country, to include in their strategy for these new learning hours the season of greatest educational risk and setback: summer.
A century of research confirms what teachers know from experience: Students lose during summer vacation too much of what they learned during the school year. Students typically score lower on standardized tests after the summer break than they did before it. Most students lose two months of mathematical skills every summer, and low-income children lose another two to three months in reading. The many positive efforts in progress to improve teaching, raise standards, and add hours to the school day will be undermined by the well-documented, annual, and cumulative problem of summer-learning loss.
The extra body of time summer represents is too full of opportunity for our educational system to let it sit fallow. Districts must seize this time to get both students and teachers ready for the Common Core State Standards, and the higher targets that competition in the global workforce demands. But more than just hours, the summer months offer a unique flexibility that is critical to both educational innovation and to the way students see the experience of school. Summer learning can change the game for students, especially those who are struggling. It should be a time for reimagination and deeper learning, when kids have a chance to reframe their attitudes toward school and connect with teachers and content in an entirely different way, when they have a chance to get comfortable with the expectations of a new grade or school. With extra time and a setting that is stimulating and engaging, students can truly hit the...
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- Assistant/Associate Professor, Literacy
- Regis University, Denver, CO
- Director of School Support
- The Achievement Network, Multiple Locations
- Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
- Lake Forest School District 67 & 115, Lake Forest, IL
- Princeton Public School District, Princeton, NJ
- Perspectives Charter Schools, Chicago, IL