Summer learning will play a critical role in students' return to full-time in-person learning this fall

4 steps to maximize summer learning


Summer learning will play a critical role in students' return to full-time in-person learning this fall

As we emerge from the darkness of closed school buildings, several studies have come out about the effect of the pandemic on student learning. “Learning loss” and “unfinished learning” are the main topics of conversation among educators, along with summer school programs and tutoring.

Research points toward the importance of maintaining on-grade-level instruction in the coming school year, as opposed to remediation. As such, providing access to on-grade material and instruction is paramount to helping students close gaps and move forward.

Areas of need

Analyzing the results from the winter data of the criterion-referenced assessment, areas of more need in math include number and operations and algebraic thinking and problem-solving.

In reading, students have more need with foundational skills: phonological awareness, phonics, and high frequency words. While needs will vary among students, building students’ reading foundation so they can “read to learn,” no matter what grade they are in, will benefit them greatly in the long term.

Students must begin and continue with on-grade level material this coming school year. However, if students only receive remediation in 2021-22, they will never catch up and will be further behind.

So, with so many skills to attend to and a few precious summer school weeks, it can become a hard decision: Where to put the energy?

Focusing in on summer learning

Let’s think about summer school programs in a different way–let’s use summer learning to boost access to the upcoming year’s on-grade-level instruction by narrowing the focus and prioritizing skills in select areas.

Below are steps to help summer school become an extension of the current grade, as a means to give more time toward priority pre-requisite skills for the upcoming priority on-grade material.

Step 1. Identify a few–three to four–focus standards for the upcoming school year. The goal is for students to be best able to access grade-level content when they go back to school this fall. Using your state’s standards, identify those “big” math topics that are important for students to understand by the end of the 2021-22 year.

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