In summer, students from economically-disadvantaged families can lose academic gains made during the previous school year at a much higher rate than their peers. 1

Summer learning losses accumulate each year to impact third grade reading proficiency.2 In fact, some research suggests that summer learning loss may account for as much as 80 percent of the income-based achievement gap.3

Summer slide in the early grades is a predictor of:

  • High school course placement (advanced vs. basic classes)
  • High school drop-out rates
  • College attendance rates4

Summer learning programs can help children gain and retain math and reading skills, if they are high-quality and sufficiently intense.5

Show 5 footnotes

  1. Reading is Fundamental, Read for Success: Combatting the Summer Reading Slide in America. Retrieved February 2018 from:
  2.  Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.  American Sociological Review, (72, 167-180).
  3.  Allington, R., McGill-Franzen, A. (2012). Summer Reading: Closing the Rich-Poor Reading Achievement Gap, Teachers College Press. Retrieved from:
  4.  Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.  American Sociological Review, (72, 167-180).
  5.  Annie E Casey Foundation, Early Warning Confirmed, 2013.

Read More About This Issue

average number of months in reading achievement students from low-income families lose over the summer

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

1 in 8
Children who qualify for free or reduced price meals access them in the summer months.
9 in 10
Teachers spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year

What Can We Do About It?

What supports promotion to the next grade?

  • A comprehensive, aligned education system from birth through third grade
  • Early identification of developmental delays and learning problems and effective intervention, including tiered, integrated student supports, supports to enable family engagement in students’ learning, and attention to summer learning loss
  • Promotion of educational equity to ensure that students facing the most obstacles to success receive the most supports

Research-based based policies, practices and programs that providers, communities and North Carolina can take to ensure promotion to next grade.

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