The summer learning slide

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.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.


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