For students, summer is a welcome break from the daily classroom grind. However, all that time spent away from the books can lead to a phenomenon known as "summer learning loss", in which students forget concepts they learned during the school year. This can lead to them being unprepared when school resumes in the fall, and unable to catch up to classroom pace.
Summer learning loss also disproportionately affects lower income students, who may not have access to the same stimulating summer programs as their higher income peers. In order to address this disparity, school districts around the country have attempted to create public summer schools and programs to keep kids learning and engaged between June and September.
In Providence, Rhode Island, school officials realized that to keep kids interested in academics during the break, they would have to do more than offer traditional remediation summer classes. They instead decided to use their funds to give students a chance to use their science and math knowledge in fieldwork activities. Students then took the skills they learned in the field and applied them to complex classroom problems.
While standardized test scores in the district are still low, student engagement and grades in math and science have risen among those who participated in the summer program. For school officials, this is evidence enough that their summer programs are worth the effort.
"We could have remediation until the cows came home, and, one, substantial numbers of kids didn't attend, and, two, it wasn't effective." Susan Lusi, Providence Public School District.
1. What is "summer learning loss"?
2. What are some different ways students can spend their summers?
3. How can students stay engaged in learning during the summer months?
1. What do you do during the summer? Do you feel like you have forgotten things when you come back from summer vacation?
2. Do you think summer programs are a valuable use of the school's funds?
3. Should educators be more concerned with students' grades in school, or their standardized test scores?
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