It Is A Good Time to Think About Summer and Young People

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In The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement THE LEARNING EXECUTIVE SUMMARY By Beth M. Miller, Ph.D. (note: this hyperlink is to a pdf – so by clicking it it will download the document which you can then open) many excellent ideas and much useful information is shared. Some of the information is quoted below.

The Question is asked: “How can we keep the faucet on during the summer months? One approach would be to extend the school year, which may make sense especially in light of the fact that children go to school fewer days in the U.S. than in other industrialized countries. However, this approach poses significant financial hurdles if the school calendar is to be extended more than a few days or even weeks, i.e., enough to make a significant difference. In addition, while schools have proven competent at teaching the basic math and English skills tested by standardized tests, other types of programs may be better at developing skills in teamwork, critical thinking, creativity, and a host of other areas important to building individual brain architecture and a national workforce.” – p 9

“Schools are only one of many options to keeping the faucet turned on: other tested strategies include summer reading interventions, summer school, summer camp, and hybrid youth development-academic enrichment programs, all of which have some potential for reversing summer learning loss and increasing educational equity.” – p 9

“While research into the educational effects of summer programs is still in its early stages, the evidence to date suggests that high quality academic enrichment programs can decrease and perhaps eliminate summer learning loss for low-income children. Given this powerful evidence, why is the learning faucet still turned too low (or even off) during the summer? This is a question that must now be addressed by researchers, policymakers, community leaders, and the public at large.” – p14

“Perhaps the biggest learning gap we face is not an education or even an opportunity gap for our children. It is a knowledge gap for the adults concerned about these issues—the gap between what scientists and educators already know and what society does (or does not do) with that knowledge. If, as a society, we leave the “learning faucet” turned off for the summer, the test- score gap between economically advantaged children and their less financially well-off peers will continue to grow. Schooling matters, and while schools can improve, the research says that they are already doing their job to a large extent—that is, helping all children learn. However schools cannot help when their doors are closed and when family resources become learning resources. As a result, children with less access to opportunity lose out.” – p14

“Summer deserves attention because, when the season begins, learning ends for many children. More important, the summer months represent a unique slice of time, when children can learn and develop in myriad ways that will help them in school and far beyond. Summer learning is not just about retaining information; it is about problem-solving, analyzing and synthesizing information, generating new ideas, working in teams, learning to be with all kinds of people—all skills that help build learning in a broad way, and can, at a time when schools are narrowing the curriculum, lend breadth to student learning.” – p14

Tap on the hyperlink above to read the entire executive summary.

When it comes to advancing the learning of our students the summer is a largely untapped time of possibility for learning.  Yes, it will likely require schools to be more focused on summer learning.  Yes, for summers to strong times of learning – it will also take communities embracing the possibilities of summer learning. And yes, families will want to deliberately focus on using the time summer offers in ways that can help young people to stretch, develop and grow!

A brand new resource is: Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap (2013) by Allington and McGill-Franzen.

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