We all need a break once in a while. No one can argue with that. However, the long summer break can be challenging for low-income families with regards to child care and food security, as discussed in a previous post. Another downside to long summer breaks is the well-documented learning loss that occurs when children are not engaged in educational activities for long periods of time.
The good news is that this “Summer Slide” is not inevitable. By taking part in special activities, kids can have a fun and educational summer. Researchers have found one reason for the achievement gap between low- and middle-class students is a lack of access to quality summer enrichment programs among lower-income families.
Summer learning loss is cumulative, building over time so that many kids from low-income families fall further behind their peers year after year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in math during the summer break.
Studies also show that while students from middle-income families make slight gains in reading skills over the break, students from low-income households lose more than two months of reading achievement. While a number of districts have turned to year-round schedules or extended school years to combat summer learning loss and meet the child care needs of working families, summer programs offer a slightly less expensive way to target educational enrichment courses to high-risk students.
According to a 2011 Wallace Foundation report, Making Summer Count, school districts running their own summer programs spent less (more…)
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So our research team met this morning to discuss some data that Cindy, our program evaluator, has been analyzing. One critical question is “how do we measure our children’s likelihood of growing up to achieve economic self-sufficiency?” We know there are lots of imperfect predictors for graduating from high school (or dropping out) as well as lots of intermediate predictors that take the form of: success in X in 3rd grade leads to success in Y in 6th grade. Well I run across these occasionally so I thought this would be as good a place as any to store them.
Early Ed Watch has a post up discussing a Brookings report on the use of 8th grade algebra in high-poverty schools. Apparently, some schools are placing more (or even all) of their kids in 8th grade algebra classes, even if they have only a second grade math level. That can bring down the performance of all the kids in those classes. So how do you really prepare kids for 8th grade algebra? You make them proficient in “whole number operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) by 4th grade.”
By aligning pre-K programs with elementary curricula, we can help get more of those kids up to speed and more of them graduating high school. Slide 47 on this power point shows that the difference in 7th Grade math grades is the 7th largest gap between high school graduates and drop outs. The previous slide finds that differences in math between graduates and dropouts are statistically significant even in kindergarten. (Wish the slides were better sourced, but they are not.)
So how can we measure “whole number operations” in 4th grade? Is that what the state standardized tests are looking for?
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