- Statistically significant gains in reading comprehension and accuracy are being seen in 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in Tennessee who attended school-based summer reading camps, notes Chalkbeat.
- Nearly 8,000 students at high risk of regressing in reading skills during the "summer slide" attended 250 free camps across the state. The Ready to Read program was four hours a day for four weeks; groups of five kids worked with one teacher.
- Only 37% of 3rd graders in Tennessee scored proficient in reading on the most recent state tests. While that represents an uptick, and the news around the camps is encouraging, still, Tennessee has its work cut out to reach its goal of a minimum of 75% of 3rd graders reading at grade level by 2025.
Concern over the summer slide and efforts to alleviate it continue throughout the country. The summer break is being viewed less as two months of vacation and more as a span of time during which continued learning can be included. Summer programs take on additional urgency in light of the fact that low-income children tend to experience the most severe learning loss because their families often can't afford the enrichment activities and learning opportunities offered in the larger community. That's why free school-based programs, like the one in Tennessee, can be an effective approach.
Planning for summer learning programs, experts say, shouldn't wait until spring. Instead it should start now as students are returning to to school. It takes time work with partner organizations, review data, and get all components nailed down. The key aspects of the Tennessee program are high-quality books (students were sent home with about 25 to keep for their personal library), field trips, and teacher training.The centerpiece of the training was the development of a cadre of literacy coaches to work directly with the camp educators. The first two summers, the preparation focused on integrating authentic reading and texts into the daily camp curriculum, while this year increasing student interest in and stamina for writing was the priority. This emphasis on thoroughly preparing teachers dovetails with the realization that teachers can experience their own sort of summer slide that shouldn't ignored when putting together programs and other solutions intended to give students a significant boost.