Summer Slide: The reality of summer learning loss for students

Summer learning loss is a time period when young students can lose two to three months of knowledge from the previous school year. The phenomenon, also known as the Summer Slide, has been studied for nearly a century, and it affects a certain group of students more than others.

"It's particularly serious for low income learners who may not have access to additional resources at home," said Dr. Marvin Lynn, the Dean at the School of Education at Indiana University-South Bend.

"We have a number of students in the South Bend, Mishawaka school districts that are under-resourced," said Dr. Lynn.

Experts say those resources play a big role in who is affected by the Summer Slide. During the school year, students, regardless of socioeconomic factors, have access to books, physical activity and guidance in the classroom. They are also guaranteed at least one or two meals.

"Only about 15% of low income children who get their free and reduced meals at school during the school year have access to those in the summer," said Sarah Pitcock, the CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.

Due to a lack of resources, experts say the achievement gap between low and high income students widens during the summer. And, summer learning loss is cumulative, so students who are not engaged in some sort of activity in the summer are at risk of falling behind.

"By the end of 5th grade, low income youth who have not had a summer learning opportunity, are up to two and a half years behind their middle and higher income peers," said Pitcock.

Pitcock and other experts say keeping a child engaged in the summer is key to success the following school year. 16 Morning News will address the expanding opportunities in Michiana in part two of the Summer Slide series.

For more information about Summer Learning Loss, click here for the National Summer Learning Association website.

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