In summer, students from historically-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, educators say they are especially concerned about students living in poverty, English-language learners and students with disabilities.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. BROOKINGS, Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it? Retrieved September 2017 from:
  2.  Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.  American Sociological Review, (72, 167-180).
  3. Giacone, J., Gilreath, A., Harris, B., Kantrowitz, B., Mader, J., Mongeau, L., and Preston, C. (2021). Summer school programs race to help students most in danger of falling behind. 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
1 in 8
Children who qualify for free or reduced price meals access them in the summer months.
7 in 10
Teachers who spend up to 40 days re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year.

The 74 Million


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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