Why We Need Summer School

Low-income kids lose two months' worth of learning each year: Jeff Smink
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 28, 2011 2:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Americans hate to sacrifice the traditional “lazy summer”—but the long breaks are taking a toll on kids’ education. “Summers off are one of the most important, yet least acknowledged, causes of underachievement in our schools,” writes Jeff Smink in the New York Times. On average, students lose a month’s worth of learning per summer in reading and math. And “it disproportionately affects low-income students,” who lose two months’ worth. “This learning loss is cumulative, summer after summer.”

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But such troubling statistics are “preventable,” Smink notes. “All students in high-need schools should have at least six weeks of full-day summer school,” including “individualized instruction, parental involvement and small classes.” And some cities are already taking action, moving away from the stigmatized “remedial model” of summer school. Instead, cities like Pittsburgh are offering summer education called “camp” and including summer activities like rowing. What’s more, a survey found that 83% of parents back using public money to fund these programs. Click for his full column. (Read more summer stories.)

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