BALTIMORE -- The end of the school year marks the start of the "summer slide" in math and reading skills for millions of students across the country. That's why 'no more teachers, no more books,' shouldn't mean that learning should stop once the final bell rings!
So hundreds of communities across the nation – from Seattle, Washington to Austin, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland – are joining together with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) for National Summer Learning Day on July 14th – a national advocacy day to elevate the importance of summer learning as a solution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in this country.
"We want this to be the best summer ever for all students, full of enrichment opportunities that keep our young people safe, healthy, and learning," said U.S. Education Secretary John. B. King Jr. "Together, we can close the gaps that persist for far too many students and support opportunities for all children to succeed in and out of school."
The theme of National Summer Learning Day 2016 is "Smarter Summers, Brighter Futures" and the NSLA and its partnering organizations, from libraries to parks and recreation centers, civic, and non-profit groups, as well as the White House, are looking to realize hundreds of learning events to serve a goal of one million youth. Among the events, spread out over the next month leading up to and through National Summer Learning Day that can be found on NSLD's interactive map, will be:
- Austin, TX, July 7 & 14 : STEM Summer Learning Day at the Texas Capitol and Keep Austin Playing at Palmer Events Center (City of Austin)
- New York, NY, July 14: Summer Learning Day at Harlem RBI
- Bronx, NY, July 14: Summer Learning, United Way Day of Action at Mott Haven Public Library
- Boston, Massachusetts, July 14: Summer Learning Day Block Party, Office of Mayor Marty Walsh
- Chicago, IL, July 14: National Summer Learning Day; Rahm's Readers Summer Learning Challenge – Sherman Park
- Dallas, TX, July 14: Dallas Police and Youth Forum: "Let's Talk"
- Houston, TX, July 14: Every Superhero has a Story – Summer Learning Day at Youth Education Town II YET Center
- Seattle, WA, July 14: National Summer Learning Day Celebration with Mayor Ed Murray
- Baltimore, MD, July 20 & 26: Youth BMore Summer Block Party Tour, Office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
In conjunction with National Summer Learning Day, NSLA has also set a goal to expand summer learning, meals and job opportunities for millions of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals by 2020. Resources being employed to reach this goal include:
- NSLA's new website www.summeropportunity.org with user-friendly resources for families, summer programs providers, and municipal leaders.
- An inaugural media partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas and iHeart Radio on a summer learning multi-media campaign.
- The publication of Summers Matter by NSLA Founder and Chairman Matthew Boulay, PhD. The book offers a how-to for parents, teachers, administrators and others on how to incorporate summer opportunities in their schools and communities.
- In partnership with the White House and U.S. Department of Education, NSLA developed a Funding Resource Guideto help state and local leaders identify the most promising funding streams to support summer learning and to show how innovative states, districts and communities have creatively blended public and private funding to meet the needs of young people during the critical summer months.
Summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap, as research has shown every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading achievement, while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth also lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills in the summer. Year after year, these losses accumulate so that by fifth grade, the cumulative years of summer learning loss can leave low-income students almost three years behind their peers.
This loss is not just in human capital. There is a significant financial loss as well. Consider that public school funding in the 2014–2015 school year totaled roughly $600 billion for 50 million students nationally, or roughly $12,000 per student, per school year. If the average student loses during the summer 10–20 percent of what they learned during the school year, that is $60-$120 billion dollars lost every year.
"Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation's youth at risk for falling behind, year after year," said Sarah Pitcock, NSLA CEO. "There is an unmet demand for summer programs and opportunities to address the challenges of low-income and working families."
In February, the White House announced the Summer Opportunity Project – a multi-agency effort in partnership with NSLA and other national partners designed to give young people access to the first job and encourage investment in programs supporting summer meals and learning. Under President Obama's leadership and the coordinated efforts of federal agencies, opportunities for more enriching summers have grown significantly.
The President has committed nearly $6 billion in new funding in the 2017 budget for work experience programs for young people, the Department of Labor's Summer Jobs and Beyond granted $20 million to various communities that provide young people with job opportunities.
Additionally, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Child Care (OCC) launched the new National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) in October 2015. The goal of NCASE is to ensure that school-age children in families of low-income have increased access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning experiences that contribute to their overall development and academic achievement.