With schools across the country shuttered for the foreseeable future, educators and policymakers are looking toward summer as a chance to catch students up and keep them learning. But what are the best ways to use the summer months? FutureEd Editorial Director Phyllis Jordan put the question to Aaron Dworkin, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association.
What does your research and experience tell us about the impact of lost instructional time over the summer, especially for disadvantaged students?
The RAND Corporation released one of the largest-eversummer-learning studiesrecently. They found that lower-income students experience greater setbacks over the summer compared to wealthier peers. And while most kids do lose some math skills over the summer, poor children lose reading and math skills, compounding the achievement gaps that we’re concerned about.
Is that because they don’t have the same resources available to them as more affluent kids?
Absolutely. There are different studies showing how much more money middle and upper-middle-class parents spend on the educational experiences of their children over the summer. Lower-income students have fewer resources, and less access to opportunity. In the moment we’re in with so many parents at home with their kids, there’s a lot of empathy for the experience millions of families face over the summer. Even those families that do have a lot of resources are struggling to navigate quarantine.