Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Learning Gaps

In a recent blog post we looked at when children who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are eligible for an extended school year. But all children, not just those with special education needs, are affected by the summer school break. What is of particular interest is how income levels impact how the summer break affects students and their learning.

A review of pertinent research on the website of The National Summer Learning Association, republished on LD Online, noted that most children lose approximately 2.6 months of grade equivalent learning in math each summer. Loss of math skills does not seem to vary between children from higher and lower income families, and the researchers posit that this may be because children from both groups are not engaged in math skills training over the summer months. However, the situation is quite different for reading levels. In this realm, children from low income families lose more than two months of reading level over the summer, while children from middle income families actually gain reading skills over the same period. The researchers ascribe this difference to opportunities for reading that are available to the higher income children over the summer months. 

Furthermore, research seems to indicate that the impact of these differences accumulates over the course of a student's elementary school career, and that differences between these two groups of students can be attributed largely to gaps created by summer breaks. Parents need to be mindful of these issues and do what they can to create opportunities for all students to have access to learning opportunities -- especially those that provide reading and language exposure -- during summer months, such as those offered by New York public libraries.

Read more at LD Online: LD Online: "On Summer Loss" 

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