I recently had the opportunity to attend “Summer Changes Everything,” the National Summer Learning Association’s conference in Baltimore, MD.
Although October might seem like an unusual time to be immersed in information about summer camps, summer programs and summer learning, it turns out that October is actually a month later than recommended. One of the slogans often repeated during the conference was, “Summer Starts in September.” The process of planning, delivering and improving high-quality summer learning programs is continuous. So when the summer program ends in August, planning for next year begins in September.
Increasing summer learning is one of the key focus areas of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. While all students lose some ground in mathematics over the summer, low-income students lose more ground in reading, while their higher-income peers may even gain. Most disturbing is that summer learning loss is cumulative; over time, the difference between the summer learning rates of low-income and higher-income students contributes substantially to the achievement gap.
Recent research from the RAND Corporation has demonstrated that high quality, engaging, low- or no-cost summer learning programs can prevent summer learning loss and even boost student achievement.
The National Summer Learning conference provided a great opportunity to connect with communities who are adopting a new approach to high quality summer learning programs. These innovative programs integrate learning with enrichment, nutrition and outdoor experiences.