National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has Released a New Summer Learning Brief
Summer learning loss or summer slide refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge that students often experience during the summer months. A study published last year followed students in grades 1 through 6 across five summers and showed that 52% of students lost an average of 39% of their total school year gains during the summer months. Summer learning loss following this past school year may be of particular concern due to the pandemic. A recent Curriculum Associates study found that fewer students were on grade level in spring 2021 compared to previous school years. The anxiety, stress and isolation from peer groups caused by the pandemic have also heightened the need for students to be re-engaged social-emotionally.
A notable amount of research exists regarding the effectiveness of high-quality summer enrichment programs. The RAND corporation conducted a longitudinal study of summer learning programs. RAND found that after one summer, high-attenders outperformed control-group students in mathematics in the fall. Subsequently, high attenders outperformed on the spring state assessment. After the second summer, high attenders saw advantages in mathematics, language arts and social-emotional skills, with the outperformance in math and language arts continuing through the following spring.
A recent National Academies of Science report concluded summer learning programs play a vital part in academic, cognitive, social and physical development. Further, the report found summer enrichment opportunities are unevenly distributed. Low-income students and students of color are much less likely to have access to enriching summer programs because of cost and availability.
Unmet demand for summer programs remains high. Afterschool Alliance’s nationally representative parent survey, America After 3, discovered that nearly 1 in 3 children not in a program during summer 2019 would have been enrolled in one if it was available to them. The survey also observed higher unmet demand and lower summer participation among families with low incomes. COVID-19 grew this unmet demand. A 2020 survey of program providers found that, on average, summer programs served about half as many children in 2020 as they served in 2019 due to social distancing guidelines and reduced student-staff ratios…