Student Achievement

Finding Out How to Stop Summer Learning Loss

By Sarah D. Sparks — October 04, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In summer school as in Wonderland, sometimes it takes all the running you can do, just to keep in the same place.

Federal data suggests that low-income students lose one to three months of learning during the summer. Research presented at the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society offers educators a way to learn more about how to target summer interventions by tracking students who keep pace over the summer.

Joanna Christodoulou, who leads the Brain, Education, and Mind Lab, at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions, and her colleagues tracked early elementary students with reading difficulties who participated in Seeing Stars, a summer program that aims to improve students’ ability to read silently, and aloud. At the beginning and end of the study, they also used functional MRI to measure the cortical thickness—a physical indicator of learning growth—in regions of the brain associated with reading development.

Three out of four low-income students benefitted from the program, but only 26 percent of wealthier students did, suggesting low-income students had more room to grow. Moreover, the lowest-performing readers improved more than students who had read better at the start of the summer.

At first, the researchers found no difference in cortical thickness between the students who participated in the summer program and a control group of similar students who did not. Cortical thickness is a measure of the strength of connections in the brain and has been associated with greater learning.

However, the students who had shown academic growth by the end of the program did have cortical thickening, whereas the brains of students in the control group and participants who’d had no academic improvement showed cortical thinning, a sign of decline.

“It might help us rethink what it means to define a successful intervention.hat if success in the summer is the absence of decline rather than the presence of growth at least as a first marker of success.” Christodoulou said. “It might help us rethink what it means to define a successful intervention.”


Related:

Want more research news? Get the latest studies and join the conversation.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
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
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

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

Student Achievement Schools Straddle the Pandemic and Familiar Headwinds in Quest to Boost Quality
The latest Quality Counts summative grades show stubbornly average performance by the nation's schools overall, despite pockets of promise.
1 min read
Illustration of C letter grade
Getty
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Learning Gaps
In this Spotlight, analyze where learners – and educators – are in their learning process; see what other leaders are planning, and more.
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 Achievement Whitepaper
The Tutoring Solution: Exclusive Survey Findings
A white paper commissioned by Kelly Education and published by the EdWeek Research Center finds that parents and educators alike are on b...
Content provided by Kelly Education
Student Achievement Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Student Achievement?
Quiz Yourself: How is your district doing with student achievement?