This year, thanks to the coronavirus, the dreaded “summer slide” will be worse than usual. Studies have found that students lose up to 25 to 30 percent of what they learned in an academic year over the following summer, with the worst losses, particularly in reading, among low-income kids.
A Gallup survey done in early April found that 83 percent of parents reported their children were involved in online distance learning. But Gallup conducted the survey online, so it excluded families with no internet connection. That means perhaps a third of students are not participating in remote learning this spring. For them, “summer” will last at least five months.
Some districts and charter schools may run summer schools after stay-at-home orders are lifted. But most are predicting funding problems ahead due to lower tax revenues, so it’s likely that few will be able to afford summer school.
Are there other solutions? Districts and charter organizations could switch to year-round schedules, which have developed in some places to combat summer slide. Typically, these schools close for only a month or so at the height of summer. They reopen in early August, then have two-week breaks in the fall, at Christmas, in February and in April. Some charter schools bring kids who are behind grade level in for intensive catch-up work during at least one of the two weeks off each quarter.
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