Why Technology Can Help Reduce the Summer Learning Gap
It’s May! In my classroom, students are preparing for finals and completing final projects. In these moments, I try to pause and reflect on the growth and accomplishments of the past year.
As I do so, it stands out to me that this growth we are celebrating will not “stick” with my students equally. While some of my students will keep growing in the next few months, others will actually lose skills and understandings that they have now. Unsurprised? Some people (who probably aren’t educators) would say “This makes perfect sense, some students end up successful, some don’t.” But this is not random. Not at all. With a high degree of accuracy, I can predict which students will gain or lose ground in which subjects.
Who is Affected:
I do not have a crystal ball, I just know about Summer Learning Loss (SLL). SLL occurs when students lose academic skills or knowledge during summer vacation. The academic community has started to try to quantify this loss. They have found that on average, American students lose about a month of academic time during summer break.
But these data do not tell the whole story, which is much more interesting when you look at specific subjects and populations of students. In mathematics, students lose approximate 2.6 months of content time. Interestingly enough, in ELA, high-income students actually GAIN in achievement during the summer, while low-income students lose about 2 months of reading achievement. To get a better idea of what these data mean, over the course of a K-12 school career, the average student loses over 2 years of academic time in math (and ELA for the average lower income student).
What Can We Do?
Technology can be a powerful lever in reversing the SLL trends. Think flipping your classroom, all summer long! Through the diverse education platforms out there, teachers can send assignments to students, monitor progress, and view student data as much or as little as they want during the summer. And, because more and more educational websites are becoming mobile-accessible, it’s becoming far easier to access these learning tools and practice opportunities.
I’m currently working with teachers to set up their summer work on Edcite, and the process has been inspirational to see! Based on their level of mastery during the school year, teachers are differentiating the content and sending specific assignments to specific groups of students. Thankfully, with multimedia-rich and interactive assignments, this summer work will be a lot more engaging for students that the traditional summer work packet. Best of all, teachers don’t have to wait until school starts to see if a student did or did not complete the work — they can monitor progress and access student performance data throughout the summer. And, through Edcite’s reporting features like the standards report, teachers can see what standards and concepts students have mastered, and which might need to be focused on more during the next school year.
If you have any favorite digital resources you love to use during the summer, I’d love to add them to my bag of tricks! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet at me (@bbmcintosh14)!