Jen on Summer Slide

Jen Ramming Today, we'd like to continue our discussion on summer slide. In addition to advice from Susie, we spoke with Jen Ramming, Director of OpenDoors of Asheville whom we partner with for trainings and scholarships. Jen had this to say about summer slide:

OpenDoors of Asheville works primarily with students from multigenerational poverty, but our support families and their children also struggle to avoid summer slide. Many parents, regardless of their tax bracket, have to work during summer while school is out, so they search for high quality enrichment programs that make the students' summer fun and memorable, while helping them use their hard-earned skills from the previous year and not fall behind.

Unfortunately, summer achievement loss is particularly evident in reading ability. While many students show some loss in reading skills over the summer months, low-income students, who often do not have access to books in the home, experience an average loss in reading achievement that outpaces their time spent out of school (Cooper, 1996). This is especially critical for rising third graders, as their window for learning to read proficiently is quickly closing. We find one antidote to this slide is for parents and mentors to find quiet time to read to children or listen to books on smart phones and other mobile devices.

We also find it imperative to provide camp opportunities where healthy peer relationships can flourish and academics are quietly woven into the day in a way that helps struggling learners find new reference points for their knowledge.

Most students also lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months, but more than half of the reading and math achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander, et al, 2007). OpenDoors endeavors to find summer camps and enrichment activities for every child in order to allow kids to bloom all summer long, and come back to school in the fall ahead of where they left off.

Doesn't this continued investment in children, year round, make sense to all of us?