What Works for Summer Learning?

Before summer draws to a close, NCECF is excited to feature What Works for Third Grade Reading: Summer Learning. The resource is one of 12 new working papers that offer research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency. The new brief considers why Summer Learning matters for third grade reading proficiency, outlines its connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to move the needle on summer learning outcomes.

Summer learning is critical for third grade reading proficiency, and there are important disparities to note. Children from low-income families fall behind by as much as two months of reading and math achievement each summer, while their peers from middle-income families make slight gains in reading.(1) Summer learning loss has accumulating consequences. These year-over-year compounding losses leave lower-income children up to three grade levels behind their higher-income peers by fifth grade. Beyond third grade reading scores, summer slide in these early grades is a predictor of high school course placement, drop-out rates, and college attendance rates. (2)

There is less research than we would like about what works in summer learning, particularly when it comes to cost effectiveness and long-term outcomes. The working paper offers a series of policy options and best practices, and highlights a couple of programs that have been shown to be effective.

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.

Pathways is bringing together diverse leaders working across disciplines, sectors, systems, and political ideologies to define a common vision, shared measures of success and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development beginning at birth. Pathways is an initiative of the NC Early Childhood Foundation in collaboration with NC Child, the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., and BEST NC.

(1) Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2010). Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. Retrieved from: http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-Early_Warning_Full_Report-2010.pdf

(2) Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.  American Sociological Review, (72, 167-180).