What is “Summer Slide,” and how can we help prevent it?

The “Summer Slide” is the distinct learning loss that students can experience when out of school. “A regression in academic proficiency due to summer break, experts warn it is hindering kids’ progress when they head back to school.” (Scholastic)

“The concept of the summer slide has been on researchers’ radar since at least 1996, when one of the first comprehensive studies on the phenomenon was published. The study showed that kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year. A more recent study of children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.” Click here to read the full Scholastic article.

The Role of Reading

In Barbara Heyns’ study, “Summer Learning and the Effects of Schooling,” she was able to identify summer “parameters” influential to learning by comparing learning gains during the school year to learning gains during the summer in students.

  • This research found that children who did not read at all over the summer experienced a loss of reading skills equivalent to as much as an entire grade level.
  • Children who read at least six books during the summer either maintained or improved their reading skills—and this was true for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status.
  • However, higher socioeconomic status children were more apt to read over the summer, as were as girls, children who used the public library and children who lived closer to a library.

Click here to read the full Collaborative Summer Library Program Summer Reading white paper.

Through our Book Bus, Storybook Trail and K-3 Summer Reading programs, we provide students with high-quality books, resources and engagement opportunities to keep children reading and learning over the summer. We hope to prevent the “Summer Slide” in Tennessee by giving students the tools to continue learning when out of school.

To invest in our efforts to strengthen early literacy and build lifelong learners in Tennessee