|Long-Term Effects of Summer Learning Loss | Effects >>
Critical Need for Summer Programs | Need >>
Expanding Summer Opportunities in California | Summer Matters >>
California Legislative Task Force on Summer and Intersession Enrichment | Task Force >>
Brief History and Status of Summer Learning in America | Graphic >>
A child’s need for meaningful learning and enrichment experiences does not end in June when the school doors close for summer vacation. These needs continue into and through the summer months, but whether or not these needs are being met may boil down to a child’s neighborhood or family income level. Without ongoing summer opportunities to reinforce and learn skills, children—especially children in low-income communities—fall behind dramatically in many areas of academic achievement. Additionally, the health of many low-income children is put at risk during the summer because they lose access to healthy school meals and organized physical activity.
The Long-term Effects of Summer Learning Loss
All children need summer learning opportunities in order to stay on course academically. The debilitating effect of an absence of summer learning and enrichment is often referred to as summer slide. Summer slide is characterized by measurable learning loss and significant achievement gaps between lower- and higher-income children. Reading loss is a telling example.
Research has shown low-income children to be nearly three grade equivalents behind their more affluent peers in reading by the end of the fifth grade as a result of summer learning loss.
These gaps in achievement result in low-income youth being less likely to graduate high school, to enter college or to be successful later in life.
Summer learning loss video courtesy of Horizons National
- California parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Public Agenda, 2010).
- The supply of low-cost summer programs in California is extremely limited relative to the number of low-income children (National Summer Learning Association, 2009).
- Summer school is currently the largest provider of summer programming in California, but budget cuts have had a devastating effect on program availability (NSLA, 2009).
- A study of five California cities revealed that nearly 75% of children and youth are not served by the most common providers of summer programming (NSLA, 2009).
- Research spanning 100 years shows that children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer (White, 1906; Entwisle & Alexander, 1992; Cooper et al., 1996, Downey et al., 2004).
- The summer achievement gap affects low-income children disproportionately. Unequal summer learning opportunities during elementary school years are responsible for about two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al., 2007).
- Most children gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school for summer. Summer gains are especially large for African American and Hispanic children (von Hippel et al., 2007). In California, nearly a third (32%) of 5th graders are overweight or obese (kidsdata.org; California Department of Education, 2009).
Summer Matters | Expanding Summer Learning and Enrichment Opportunities in California
Partnership for Children and Youth, along with collaborators such as The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Summer Learning Association, ASAPconnect, Senator Mark DeSaulnier and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are working to change the landscape of California’s summer learning opportunities. The Partnership works at the local, state and federal levels to strengthen existing summer programs and to advocate for a supportive environment in which to develop new summer opportunities.
The Partnership is addressing these issues by helping communities build effective summer programs for children and youth. Our strategies include:
- Researching and disseminating information about possible sources of funding for summer programming to schools, community organizations, municipalities and other possible providers;
- Supporting providers in strengthening the program quality through planning, partnerships, assessment and continuous improvement; and
- Building the tools and capacity of local technical assistance providers to support summer program development and expansion.
California has a unique opportunity to build on its significant investment in after school programs which operate in more than 4,000 schools across the state. Our after school system has staff, training and technical assistance resources, research results and best practices that can and should be utilized to develop strong summer programs for children of all ages.
Read about Summer Matters: A New Vision for Summer in California >>
Legislative Task Force on Summer and Intersession Enrichment
Chaired by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, the State Legislative Task Force on Summer and Intersession Enrichment was created through legislation in 2008 with the goal of building awareness about the gap in structured learning and enrichment opportunities for low-income children in the summertime. The Task Force will ultimately produce a set of recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on what the state’s role in addressing the summer gap should be.
Learn more about the Task Force >>
|Questions About Summer Programs?
Please contact Katie Brackenridge, Director, Out of School Time Initiatives