Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs

Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs

Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs

Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs

Synopsis

This book brings together up-to-date, research-based evidence concerning summer learning and provides descriptions and analyses of a range of summer school programs. The chapters present theory and data that explain both the phenomenon of summer learning loss and the potential for effective summer programs to mitigate loss and increase student achievement. Summer Learning: Research, Policies and Programs: *presents evidence describing variations in summer learning loss and how these learning differences affect equality of educational opportunity and outcomes in the United States; *discusses the development, characteristics, and effects of the most recent wave of summer programs which are designed to play key roles in the recent standards movement and related efforts to end social promotion; *examines the impact of three of the most widespread, replicable summer school programs serving students across the United States; and *considers the characteristics and effects of alternative programs and practices that are designed to combat the problem of summer learning loss head on. Intended for education researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and graduate students, this volume is particularly relevant to those interested in social stratification, equity-minded policies, implications of the current standards movement and high stakes testing, and the development of programs and practices for improving education.

Excerpt

Most Americans accept the standard 9-month school calendar without question. They consider summer to be a time for leisure. Students and their teachers enjoy an extended break from the demands of schooling, and principals and other school administrators have a chance to prepare for the upcoming school year. Parents take advantage of this time to plan their family vacations, which are critical for the various recreation and vacation industries that depend on revenues generated during the summer months. State and local legislators, meanwhile, balance their budgets knowing that scarce public funds need only support the schools for 9 months out of the year. The long summer break, therefore, is rooted in a complex web of mutually shared cultural traditions, business interests, and fiscal constraints.

One important issue is missing from the calculus, however. This account of the rationale underlying the standard 9-month school calendar ignores the obvious: the impact of long summer vacations on student learning. If schools are instituted to foster academic achievement, what happens to student learning when they are closed?

There is, in fact, a significant body of research evidence showing that students lose considerable ground academically over the summer break. Since 1906, researchers have documented summer learning losses, or the “summer slide, ” by noting that students' fall achievement test scores tend to be markedly lower than the scores they achieved a few months earlier during the spring. Based on a quantitative review, or meta-analysis, of . . .

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