What is Summer Slide?

As the school year wraps up and summer is just around the corner, it’s important for teachers to consider “summer slide” and its effects on students. “Summer slide”, also known as “summer learning loss” describes the phenomena in which students lose some of their academic learning from the school year during summer vacation. Summer slide has been repeatedly proven in research in which students score lower on achievement tests directly after summer than directly before. On average, students’ achievement scores decline by around one month of school learning over the summer, according to David Quinn and Morgan Polikoff, assistant professors at the University of Southern California

The impact of summer slide is different across students and subjects. As seen in the graphs to the right from a 2015 NWEA study, achievement losses tend to be greater in math than in reading, and greater in older students in 6th-8th grade than in younger students in 3rd-5th grade. In addition, research has shown that learning loss is greater in students from low-income families. The book “Summer Learning and Home Environment”  proposes the “Faucet Theory” to explain the greater impact of summer slide on low-income students. It argues that the “resource faucet” is on for all students during the school year, but turns off for low-income students over the summer and stays on only for higher-income students, who can afford continued academic resources to facilitate learning.

It’s clear that the summertime can be a time of decline when it comes to student learning. So what can teachers do help combat this decline?

How to Prevent Summer Slide

Encourage students to read & visit libraries: Studies show that continuing to read over the summer is one of the most effective ways of combating the summer slide. Encourage students to check out the local library with their parents, as many libraries have summer reading programs that make reading fun and rewarding for kids. Another option is to direct kids to the Scholastic Read-A-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free program through which kids can log their reading minutes and win digital rewards. You can also invite parents to read aloud to children over the summer from this library of 800 free EBooks including the Wizard of Oz series and Peter Pan, or invite students to listen to these 1,000 free audiobooks, including the Chronicles of Narnia, the Wizard of Oz series, and Aesop’s Fables.

Give custom online summer practice Think of this as the 21st-century summer packet. In order to prevent summer slide, teachers can give students online practice, immediate feedback, and can keep tabs on progress thanks to education technology like Edulastic. You can assign summer reading or other summer work that is specific to what you want students to know and that is aligned to the standards that you want students to work on mastering. Release the assessments all at once, or schedule them all to open and close at specific times throughout the summer. Using Edulastic, you can provide written feedback to students, or if you want a break from grading this summer, you can let Edulastic’s autograding tools give students instant feedback!  In addition, Edulastic allows you to upload videos with each question, so that can post video lectures with refreshers or new material. Accounts are free for teachers. If you are new to Edulastic, register today!

Provide game-like supplemental learning resources: There are a variety of online resources students can use to keep learning over the summer. Here are a few free educational websites:

  • TIME for Kids: articles, photos, and videos geared for students on current news topics on the environment, entertainment, sports, and health (K-6).
  • National Geographic for Kids: Videos & games on animals  (K-6).
  • Fun Brain: Math, reading, online books, and learning games (K-8). 
  • Scholastic: Unique educational learning activities (Pre-K to Grade 12). 
  • CoolMath4Kids: “an amusement park of math and more”,  geared towards elementary schoolers (K-6).

For 200 more additional free kids educational resources, check out this website.

Let’s Defeat Summer Slide Together!

  • Register Edulastic for FREE today to create custom online summer packets.
  • Get talking! Share this article and tell us some of the ways that you find are effective to combat summer slide.