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Talking Points Summer 09

Talking Points Summer 09

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Published by: National Center for Summer Learning on Jun 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Summer Resource Gap
Most people have a wonderful image of what summer is all about for young people. It’s atime for something different -- recreation, vacations, creative exploration & enrichment.Yet the reality is very different for many young people and their families in the U.S. whostruggle to access –
High-quality educational and developmental opportunities
Healthy meals
Safe places to be with adult supervisionParents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure children haveproductive things to do, and as a difficult time to find high-quality child care.We are working to make high-quality summer learning opportunities a reality for moreyoung people in this country. Working families need more choices and opportunities forchildren over the summer months. As a nation, we owe it to our children to send them back to school in the fall ready to learn and succeed.
Support for summer learning comes from the highest levels of government:
The Obama administration strongly supports summer learning programs. President Obamawas a sponsor of STEP UP as a U.S. Senator. In a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Obama encouraged innovation in when and where our children are learning. Inrecent interviews, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed concern about studentsfrom low-income families losing ground academically during the summer, and the need formore learning time for youth.
Funding - STEP UP
 Despite the extensive research on the benefits of summer learning,
there are no federalpolicies that exclusively target summer
as a strategy to close the achievement gap. InAugust 2007 Congress passed the Summer Term Education Program for UpwardPerformance as part of the America Competes Act, STEP UP was sponsored by thenSenator Barack Obama.
However, Congress has not yet funded STEP UP.
STEP UP would be a good first step in addressing the void in federal policy by creating apilot program to provide summer learning opportunities for children attending schools inlow-income communities. If funded, the pilot program would provide at least five weeks of summer programming for more than 100,000 elementary school students in high-povertycommunities in five states. The National Center for Summer Learning is leading advocacyefforts urging Congress to provide up to $300 million in funding for STEP UP as part of the FY2010 budget.
Funding – ARRA
The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed in February,contains more than $100 billion for education. While much of the funds will be used toprevent state budget cuts and prevent layoffs, additional funds are identified specifically toencourage innovation and reform in education.While no funds explicitly target summer learning programs,
several funding streams canbe used for summer learning programs, and are being encouraged as such by theObama Administration
. They include:
Title I -- $13 billion
Summer Jobs for Older Youth -- $1.2 billion
Race to the Top -- $5 billionFunds from these programs can be used to transcend the usual remedial and punitivemodels many schools offer for students who have failed a grade; rather there is anopportunity to provide programs that are built on well-planned academic enrichmentactivities that engage kids, maintain and improve skills, and prepare students well for thecoming school year.With this new federal funding immediately available, school superintendents, boards of education, principals and parents should carefully consider the value of making high-quality summer learning programs available to all kids – not just those from families withthe means to pay for them.The Title I dollars can be used to fund comprehensive summer learning programs thatmove beyond the traditional remedial model to offer an engaging combination of academicenrichment activities for low-income children.The Workforce Investment Act funds can used to create summer jobs and workforcetraining for older youth and encourage participation in academic, youth development,recreation and other enrichment activities that promote college and career readiness.The Race to the Top funds will be distributed competitively to states and districts that mostaggressively pursue higher standards, quality assessments, robust data systems and teacherquality initiatives. This includes $650 million to fund school systems and nonprofits withstrong track records of improving student achievement. This is an opportunity for states,districts, and nonprofits to highlight summer learning programs as an innovation thatimproves student achievement.Some of these funds will only be available for two years, so the Center and its partnerswill continue to work for a dedicated funding stream for summer. Innovative use of theARRA funds that show results will make a compelling case for policymakers to invest insummer learning in the coming years.
Research spanning 100 years backs up the importance of summer learning
 If kids aren’t engaged in ongoing learning activities, they lose ground academically.We would expect an athlete’s or a musician’s performance to suffer if they didn’t practice.The same is true for our nation’s young people.Students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do onthe same tests at the beginning of summer (various studies)All young people are at risk of experiencing setbacks in math skills over the summermonths. (Cooper: 2.6 months on average)
Achievement Gap
Young people in high-poverty communities face much greater risks of experiencing losses.Low-income children fall behind an average of 2 months in reading while their middle-income peers tend to make slight gains. (Cooper, 1996)Cumulative losses in reading over the summer months during the elementary school yearscontribute to the persistent achievement gap between young people from lower and higherincome households. 2007 Alexander study: two-thirds of the 9
grade achievement gapcan be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities in the elementaryschool years. Better-off kids built their reading skills over the summer, whiledisadvantaged kids fell behind.
Health & Nutrition
Young people face potential health and nutritional setbacks as well. Children gain weighttwo or three times faster during the summer months, gaining as much weight during thesummer as they do during the entire school year. And the problem is more pronounced forAfrican-American and Hispanic kids, and those who are already overweight.(Von Hippel study, 2007)In addition, less than 20% of kids who qualify for federally subsidized meals during theschool year have access to them during the summer.

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