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STUDY SHOWS SOME STUDENTS USING SUMMER SCHOOL TO GET AHEAD

STUDY SHOWS SOME STUDENTS USING SUMMER SCHOOL TO GET AHEAD

A quality summer learning program can play a role in closing the gap between low-income students and their middle-class peers, according to a new study released today by the RAND Corporation, “Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Student Learning.”

“Summer learning loss is very real,” said study co-author Jennifer Sloan McCombs. “Each fall, students on average perform a month behind where they did in the spring.”

The loss is most pronounced among low-income students who are less likely to regain that lost ground.

“While all students lose some ground in mathematics over the summer, low-income students lose more ground in reading, while their higher-income peers may even gain,” states the RAND study.

“Most disturbing is that summer learning loss is cumulative; over time, the difference between the summer learning rates of low-income and higher-income students contributes substantially to the achievement gap,” the study warns.

In a conference call, co-author Catherine H. Augustine discussed the findings, which focus on what successful programs are doing to entice children to attend and how systems can fund such programs despite budget shortfalls. “Getting kids to attend is not always an easy sell given the long-standing stigma of summer school,” she said.

To combat the stigma, Augustine said districts are combining a morning of academic classes with enrichment activities, including arts and kayaking.

Those are the sorts of enticing activities that middle-class kids often experience in the summer, either through family vacations or pricey summer camps.

Children’s camps in Atlanta have gone well beyond roasting marshmallows and making potholders; young campers  now make robots, documentary films and gourmet meals.

Using a combination of funding sources, school districts are recasting summer school to provide equal amounts of summer and school because they understand that programs will not succeed if children don’t show up.

And these programs want to reach beyond the small pool of children at risk for retention if they don’t attend summer school to the much larger pool of students who could simply benefit by additional math and reading. (more)

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Article by MAUREEN DOWNEY, Atlanta Journal | Read full article here