By Eliot Kersgaard
We’ve known for decades that low-income students will enter school in the Fall having lost 3.5 months of the curriculum from the previous year. Add that to the 1.5 months teachers spend reviewing old material at the beginning of the year and you’re looking at a loss of 5 months of education for every year of schooling!
For affluent students, this effect is lessened or nonexistent, primarily due to increased access of summer educational and activity programs, tutors, and educational products. Indeed, upper class students will enter school in the Fall having increased their reading ability, while low income students have regressed. Summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap between low and middle income students.
Summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap between low and middle income students
And the negative effects of summer for low income students isn’t just a learning gap. Low income students are less likely to have access to healthy food due to the absence of free and reduced lunch programs, and many have a hard time even finding a safe place to be as guardians are off at work during the day and many neighborhoods aren’t safe environments for these students.
So what can be done? There are many solutions which have been proposed that are worthy of support. One which we support is extending the school year to be year-round, whether as a continuation of normal school or by offering special programs. Then there are nonprofits such as Practice Makes Perfect, which uses a peer-to-peer education model, that offer opportunities for continued learning over the summer. A coordination of independent groups such as PMP with public schooling could offer relief for many students.
A coordination of independent groups such as PMP with public schools could offer relief for many students
Then there are at-home educational opportunities, which we believe have great potential for honing skills and increasing knowledge over the summer while also making learning a fun lifelong pursuit. That’s why we’ve developed our coloring and activity book and are working toward applications which will integrate physical and digital edutainment. These products are affordable and easy to access for both low income and high income students. For more information and a free preview, check out our online store.