Summer Learning Loss and Poverty

NBC's Brian Williams discusses how summer learning loss puts students at a disadvantage academically. For more information, go to

Summer break is a time for kids to relax, go on vacation, sleep late, attend fun summer camps, play video games, and do absolutely anything they want. Besides, there is no homework and assignments to worry about completing; however, summer break brings concerns in academics for students who live in impoverished areas. Summer learning loss is where students lose skills over the summer break. As a result, the achievement gap between low and high income students widen and continues to stretch each school year. How does this problem continue to worsen as the student progresses each year? Students perform below those from higher income homes in classwork and such assessments as standardized tests, the SAT, and ACT. Students' preparation for college and beyond is also threatened. 

There are opportunities for students in low income areas to get involved in summer programs, so seek those in your area. GET INVOLVED! It has been said that effective summer reading programs provide families with meaningful strategies and resources that can be carried over and implemented in their home, which ensures continuity of summer reading programs throughout the year. What can you do to avoid summer learning loss? 

  • SET READING GOALS- (1 book weekly or bi weekly) Attend your local library OFTEN. They offer suggested readings and activities you can do along with the book.

  • CREATE A BOOK CLUB WITH SIBLINGS- Allow students to select the book and talk about it. Encourage them to converse and ask each other questions.

  • CHOOSE A BOOK WITH A MOVIE- Allow students to read the book; the movie will be a good incentive to see afterwards and will allow them to compare and contrast the book to the movie.

  • FIND A GOOD SUMMER PROGRAM- Look for a well balanced program filled with learning and fun activities.

  • CHOOSE ONLINE READINGS, WITH AUDIO-There are many online books that may engage students more than a hard cover book.

  • BE A GOOD EXAMPLE AND READ YOURSELF! The best encouragement and motivation is being the example. Model the expectation! Set out times where you read together!

After you've watched the video, I hope you have better insight to the importance of using your summer break wisely. As an educator, I have many experiences with students who return to school from the summer break and forget critical skills, concepts, and strategies that were taught just a few months back. It takes up much time to reteach these skills, but it has to be done in order for teachers to continue to build students' knowledge base. Keep learning ongoing. Just because school is out doesn't mean leaning has to be as well. Whether in a low income area or high income area, your learning should always be in.

I hope these few words find you well,

-Dr. E.