Students in Ms. Newman''s third grade class attend summer school at Brentano Academy in Chicago. Students often lose academic ground in summer, and state budget cuts are making things worse. - 

Jeff Horwich: Summer is officially here, and along with it, something known as the "summer slide." Kids can lose months' of skills they learned during the school year -- especially low-income kids.

But as Marketplace's Amy Scott reports from the Education Desk at WYPR, more districts are cutting back on summer learning programs.

Amy Scott: Two years ago, the city of Pittsburgh used federal stimulus money to transform its summer school into a free camp serving more than 5,000 kids.

Eddie Willson directs the city's Summer Dreamers Academy.

Eddie Willson: We offer activities like fencing, kayaking, jewelry-making.

There's reading and math too. But the stimulus money ran out last year, and this summer, Willson says:

Willson: We've had to turn away close to 2,000 kids. And it's heartbreaking to do that. We really want to be able to serve every child in the district.

A recent national survey of school administrators found that more than 20 percent eliminated summer schools this year.

Gary Huggins is CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.

Gary Huggins: A lot of other districts look at summer learning as an extra-something that is among the first things to be cut when budgets are tight.

Huggins says learning losses add up and widen the achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier kids.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports