Summer Learning Loss
If students participate in no academic activities during the summmer, then at best, students show little or no academic growth over summer. However, much more commonly, students show between one to three months of academic skill lost over summer. Summer learning loss tends to be greatest in math computation and spelling, but still significant in other areas including reading.
Many families take for granted educational and other enriching opportunities over summer, including summer camps, time with family, travel with a focus on culture or geography, trips to museums, national parks, and libraries.
Multiple studies have found that students who do not engage in academic activity during the summer can lose more than 2 months of academic growth gained during the school year, leaving a gap between their ability and those of their peers and where they are expected to be at the start of the following school year.
According to the studies conducted by Harris Cooper at Duke University, all students lose some level of math skill over the summer. Students without financial resources lose reading and spelling skills. Summer learning programs have a significant positive effect on all students and can help mitigate these academic losses.
Karl Alexander of John Hopkins has studied academic achievement gaps for over 30 years. Alexander has found that the biggest determiner in achievement gaps is summer learning loss, and the availability to summer activities with an academic focus during summer.
In 2010, a study carried out at Dominican University found that students who participated in a summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate and they gained in other ways as well.
Other studies include Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson (2010); Downey et al (2004); McGill & Allignton (2003); Cooper (1996); Entwisle & Alexander (1992); Alexander et al (1982); and Heyns (1978).