City Year Americorps member working in the classroom

By: Lynette Herring-Harris, Instructional Coach, Central Region

In 2007, Johns Hopkins University researchers wrote about Summer Slide. Sounds like a fun amusement park ride, right? But Summer Slide describes the harsh reality that many students lose academic knowledge during summer breaks. In studying Summer Slide, researchers agreed on 4 key points.

  • Students from low-income families tend to learn at the same pace as middle-class students learning during the school year, but summer slide seems to impact low-income learners more profoundly.

  • Learning loss is most severe in cumulative subjects like mathematics, reading, and English. Of these cumulative subjects, students tend to experience mathematic loss regardless of socio-economic level.

  • Children of middle-class families may actually gain in reading during the summer months while low-income students tend to experience reading loss.

  • Learning loss that accumulates summer after summer impacts student success and contributes to the achievement gap between socioeconomic classes.

Fast forward to 2015. University of Chicago and Northwestern University researchers studied four areas of socio-emotional skills considered important to student success in schools. They found that two important socio-emotional skills needed to support academic learning actually “melt” during summer break.

  • Approaches to learning, such as organization skills, attentiveness, and ability to follow directions

  • Interpersonal skills, such as the ability to share or work with others

Most students express joy about not doing school work during the summer, but at City Year, we want to encourage a very different attitude among students. We want them to look forward to math fun and reading for pleasure during summer vacation.

Luckily, a growing body of resources are available to AmeriCorps Members, parents, teachers, and community leaders to support summer learning. 

Quick Links to Open Education Resources


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Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D., & Olson, L. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap.American Sociological Review, 72, 167–180.

Sparks, S.D. (2016, April 14) AERA: Is there ‘summer melt’ for social-emotional learning, too? [Education Week Blog]. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2016/04/aera_is_there_summer_melt_for_.html?cmp=eml-enl-tu-news2-RM


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