National Summer Learning Day (and the first day of summer) is the perfect context to check out the latest study that confirms the "summer slide" is deeply detrimental to students. Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning was released last week by the RAND Corporation. Researchers found that summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students and that cost is the main barrier to implementing summer learning programs. According to the report, students who regularly attend high-quality summer learning programs have positive outcomes, and the effects of summer learning programs can endure for at least two years after the program (to date, no studies have looked beyond the two-year mark).
Yet for students without summer learning opportunities, the outlook can be grim. Researchers noted, "Most disturbing is that it appears that summer learning loss is cumulative and that, over time, these periods of differential learning rates between low-income and higher-income students contribute substantially to the achievement gap in reading. It may be that efforts to close the achievement gap during the school year alone will be unsuccessful."
The report includes recommendations for districts and providers as well as for policymakers and funders. They include investing in high-quality staff and incorporating best-practices into programs; exploring partnerships and a variety of funding opportunities; and for policy makers to identify stable funding sources and provide clear guidance on restrictions on requirements of funding.