Opinion
Education Opinion

Summer Learning Loss Doesn’t Have to Be an Achievement Gap!

By Learning Forward — September 23, 2013 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
Frederick Brown

For many teachers across the country, the months of August and September mark the beginning of a new school year. When I think back to my days as an elementary teacher, I remember spending these first few weeks re-teaching many of the things I felt my students should have already known. I didn’t know the proper term for it back then, but I was basically battling against summer learning loss. Now I know it doesn’t have to be this way at the start of each school year.

According to research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and authored by RAND, on average, students lose skills over the summer. The 2011 report, titled Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning, goes on to remind us that summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. While these young children are falling behind, their higher-income counterparts often gain during the summer. In essence, the achievement gap widens before the new school year even begins!

While painting a vivid picture of the impact of summer learning loss, the RAND study also provides rays of hope. It reminds us that effective summer learning programs have the potential to not only mitigate the loss but even lead to achievement gains. Effective programs, according to the study, tend to have individualized instruction, parental involvement, and small class sizes. We’re not talking traditional summer school programs that rehash all the same content in the same ways in a condensed period of time, but highly engaging activities for children that challenge and truly engage them.

In an updated study, Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success, RAND reviewed summer learning programs in six districts: Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Duval County (FL), Pittsburgh, and Rochester. These districts have committed to offering summer programs for large numbers of low-income students. Because NOW is the time to start thinking about next summer, I encourage a look at this report. It offers specific recommendations in planning, curriculum and instruction, teacher selection and training, enrichment activities, attendance, time on task, and program cost and funding. For example, with regard to teacher selection and professional learning, the report emphasized the importance of hiring effective teachers and giving them the ongoing support they need. The report suggests it is helpful to:

  • Familiarize teachers with the summer curriculum and how to teach it.
  • Help teachers tailor the curriculum for students with different aptitudes.
  • Provide ongoing support to implement the curriculum.
  • Include all instructional support staff in academic training sessions.
  • Give teachers time to set up their classrooms in advance.

During Learning Forward’s annual conference in Dallas, Catherine Augustine from Rand and Caterina Leone-Mannino from Rochester City Schools will deliver a thought-leader session on this important issue. In addition to sharing why we need to pay attention to summer learning, they’ll discuss how some districts are using summer as the ideal professional learning venue, testing new classroom strategies including implementing Common Core standards.

Those of us who have taught know it can be one tough job. Imagine a scenario where it became just a little easier because of what happened in the summer. School and district leaders, I strongly encourage you look at all we’re learning about summer learning loss and take the steps that will help combat it. Our children deserve it and our teachers will thank you...especially this time of year!

Frederick Brown
Director of Strategy and Development
Learning Forward

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP