While the summer months have brought with them a much-needed break for educators, parents and students, many teachers and administrators fear that long-standing gaps in educational opportunities could grow even bigger following the inconsistent distance learning experiences children have had throughout the country this year.
Known as summer learning loss, or more commonly as “summer slide,” often students will return after long breaks at lower academic levels compared to where they were before summer vacation. Research compiled by the Brookings Institute reports that on average, summer vacation decreases achievement scores by one month’s worth of school-year learning.
For underserved students, this type of learning loss is often more pronounced. Described in what’s known as the “faucet theory,” the flow of resources is unequal among children, and those who do not have the means to access engaging education during the summer months tend to fall further behind.
As schools prepare for a blended learning environment in the fall, what can we expect summer slide to look like this year? Recently, the NWEA’s Collaborative for Student Growth Research Center took existing summer slide research and created a new model estimating academic growth for students in grades 3 through 8. Using the term “COVID-19 slide” to define the potential academic losses, the findings are startling:
- Students are predicted to return to school in the fall with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year
- In the subject of mathematics, students could return to school in the fall with less than 50% of their learning gains, and some might fall nearly a full year behind
According to the authors of the study, Megan Kuhfeld and Beth Tarasawa, their findings mimic the fears of teachers and administrators alike: “missing school for a prolonged period will likely have major impacts on student achievement come fall 2020.”
For students who already suffer disproportionately from summer learning loss due to a lack of resources, these findings are even more worrying. To minimize this type of regression, Kuhfeld and Tarasawa recommend students and families have access to engaging instruction during these extended closures.
A STEM Kit Solution
In response to the challenges currently faced by students, teachers and parents, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) has developed the Innovation Exploration Kits™: I Can Invent® series!
Created and thoroughly tested by our expert education team, these stand-alone kits include all the materials and instructions students need for limitless STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning and fun.
With five available kits, children can enjoy hours of hands-on, open-ended activities, from designing an obstacle course for a self-driving robot to developing their very own superhero disguise. Inspired by lessons and stories from our very own NIHF Inductees, our I Can Invent series takes some of our most popular Camp Invention® activities and makes them available in an at-home setting for the first time ever.
To learn more about how our Innovation Exploration Kits can help prevent the effects of COVID-19 slide and ensure that students maintain high levels of academic performance, we invite you to visit our website!