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Summer’s Coming: Kids, Parents Beware the “Learning Gap”

May 20, 2009

Seattle, WA – Kids are starting the countdown to summer, but their parents may want to make sure their school break doesn't mean a break from books. Experts warn that "summer learning loss" can leave students months behind in literacy and math skills when they return to school in the fall — and children from low-income communities are most at risk.

Virginia Eader with Youth and Family Link says her program's "Camp-Wanna-Read" in Cowlitz County will help Washington kids avoid the academic slide that happens when young readers ignore books all summer and end up losing important math and literacy skills.

"Summer seems like such a short amount of time, but it is a serious concern when kids come back and they are much farther behind then they were, and there is such a great loss during that time."

Eader says all of the kids who attended the camp last year either stayed current or improved by as much as two reading levels. In addition to reading, writing and communications skills, the camp provides free lunch and physical fitness activities. "Camp-Wanna-Read" is open to third- though sixth-graders and begins in July; details are available by calling Eader at 1-360-423-6741.

Most students will fall behind in some subjects during the summer, according to Danielle Baer, communications and grants coordinator with School's Out Washington, but she says youngsters in high-poverty communities are most at risk. They can return to school three months behind, she warns, compared to children in well-off districts who may lose only a month's skills.

"The research is showing that especially among lower-income kids, who may not have access to summer learning opportunities, that's actually contributing to the achievement gap between middle- and higher-income youth and lower-income youth. "

School's Out Washington offers "Feed Your Brain," which provides rural communities with resources to run summer programs. Budget cuts have reduced the number of program options this summer, so parents are encouraged to sign up children early.

More information about the reading gap is available at and at - click on "Research and Publications."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA