Summer school can help close achievement gap

The RAND Corporation recently published Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning. Rand provided a summary of the report:

 Research has shown that students’ skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months, with low-income students facing the largest losses. Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop these losses and propel students toward higher achievement. A review of the literature on summer learning loss and summer learning programs, coupled with data from ongoing programs offered by districts and private providers across the United States, demonstrates the potential of summer programs to improve achievement as well as the challenges in creating and maintaining such programs.

Jeff Smink, the vice president for policy for the National Summer Learning Association, wrote in the  New York Timesthat “study from Johns Hopkins University of students in Baltimore found that about two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income ninth graders could be explained by summer learning loss during the elementary school years.”

Smink also said, “This learning loss is cumulative, summer after summer. It has a tremendous impact on students’ success, including high school completion, post-secondary education and work force preparedness.”

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Fairfax offers some summer school this year

Fairfax Struggles to Restore Full Slate of Summer School Programs. WAMU 88.5 reports that summer school offerings in Fairfax County are still below previous levels.

As it stands now, approximately two-thirds of the district’s 177 elementary and middle schools will have some sort of summer offering….

The county still offers summer courses for students with special needs and high school students who need remediation to meet grade level or to graduate. It also offers online courses for students simply looking to get ahead.