Official Statement on Paul T. von Hippel’s New Study on Summer Learning Loss

June 11, 2019 • Filed under Press Releases

June 5, 2019

Contact: Laura Johnson | 410-856-1370 x208 Communications Department


National Summer Learning Association’s Official Statement on Paul T. von Hippel’s New Study on Summer Learning Loss

(Baltimore, MD) The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) knows summers matter for children. University of Texas Professor Paul T. von Hippel’s article, published in EducationNext, confirms NSLA’s mission that equitable access to enriching and high- quality summer programs help create a brighter future for all children, and in particular those from socioeconomically vulnerable backgrounds.

Like von Hippel – who is a respected member of NSLA’s Research Advisory Council – asserts, we welcome more research in this space, especially as school testing measurement methodologies and children’s needs evolve, to help us better track the achievement and opportunity gaps of all children, especially in communities impacted by socioeconomic status gaps.

Differences in testing measurements, however, hardly negate the fact that the summer slide is real and does occur. Research trends imply that children from minority or economically disadvantaged communities bear the greater burden of this slide due to the lack of access and availability of programs in their communities that keep them both engaged and safe during the summer.

Previous research in this field does show that high quality summer learning programs for disadvantaged children can reduce achievement gaps and help them catch up, a fact that von Hippel acknowledges. For quality summer learning opportunities to exist and thrive for all children, these programs need funding, resources, local partnerships, and supportive local, state and federal policies.

We also know that summer is about more than just academics, It’s also about nurturing students both figuratively and literally.

  • Research shows that only 1 in 7 youth eligible for summer meal programs received them, which means many children go hungry when school is not in
  • Minority children gain weight twice as fast during the summer months because of the lack of access to nutritious meals. In fact, von Hippel has conducted research that shows the risk of obesity is higher when children are out of
  • Summer programs offer an opportunity to develop Social Emotional Learning Skills which research shows are a “booster rocket” to learning and also a factor in educational equity, according to the Aspen Institute’s report: From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope.

NSLA does not merely calculate summer programs as a vehicle to reduce learning loss. We consider the quality of summer programs, something previous studies did not measure. A high-quality summer program not only helps students learn, it does something better: It boosts their engagement, drive to learn and supports valuable social emotional learning skills. These are critical abilities that will help children succeed not only in school but also in their future careers as they enter the workforce.

As our work continues, NSLA advocates for the need for a variety of well-funded, community-wide learning and enrichment programs so all children have access to a safe and healthy environment when school is out. We look forward to supporting more research in this space and will continue to help parents, educators and policymakers provide children from all communities the summer – and brighter futures – they deserve.

Summer Learning Research Resources:

The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss, authored by NSLA founder, Matthew Boulay, Ph.D. and edited by Karl L. Alexander, Ph.D. and Foreword by Paul Reville, offers a comprehensive examination of summer learning.

Voluntary Summer Programs: Kids Who Attend More Benefit More Research Brief from the RAND Summer Learning Series

For more resources and research on this topic, please visit NSLA’s Knowledge Center: agenda/