Spotlight Exclusives

The Risks and Realities of Summer for Low-Income Youth

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As the summer season officially arrives, hundreds of communities across the country are taking time today to celebrate Summer Learning Day. While many think of summer as visits to the pool, vacations to the beach and playing under the sun, for children from low-income families, the reality is often very different.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Research shows that every year, low-income youth lose more than two months in reading achievement over the summer while their middle-income peers maintain or make slight gains. Most students also lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills. The cumulative effects, summer after summer, of missed learning opportunities lead to a host of negative outcomes, including a widened achievement gap, placement in less rigorous high school courses, increased high school dropout rates and lower college attendance.


Approximately two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading can be attributed to summer learning loss, according to one study. And even beyond the academic drop, six out of every seven low-income students who receive free- and reduced-price lunches during the school year lose access to them in the summer, according to the Food Research and Action Center.


The Washington Post۪s Answer Sheet recently published a post by Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, which outlines the harmful effects of the “summer slide” and points to the promise of high-quality summer learning programs in curbing those effects.


When low-income children have an opportunity to attend an enriching and engaging summer learning program, research shows that they can maintain or even gain reading and math skills. A recent report from the RAND Corporation found that high-quality summer programs with individualized instruction, parental involvement and small classes can help boost youth outcomes. In his post, Huggins asserts that this is why summer learning should be included in discussions on education reform strategies.

Posted by Olivia

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