This is the last thing that students at South Kearns Elementary hear at the end of every school day over the intercom. But on the last day of school, it didn’t hold true. Without a summer school program, most of our 340 students will not step foot in our school until next school year begins.
This means that most of our students are at-risk for summer slide. Summer slide is a term used to describe when children experience summer learning loss. This phenomenon is well documented in research. Not only does it affect the individual child’s learning for the following year, it is also cumulative, costly, and disproportionately affects children from low-income families. On average, elementary school students lose one month of learning during summer break. But students from low-income families experience a significantly worse backslide of 2-3 months.
The good news is that summer school and academically focused summer programs CAN and DO help eliminate summer slide. In 2016, a neighboring school eliminated summer learning loss in students who attended 20 or more days of summer school. For each day attended, the gap in summer learning loss shrank. But without funding, most schools do not even have an opportunity to provide summer support for students.
Knowing how much our students will be affected by summer slide and facing the reality of no funding for summer school, our team at South Kearns got together to brainstorm. How can we alleviate the effects of summer slide on a barebones budget? That is how “Monday FUNdays” was born. South Kearns Elementary will open its doors every Monday during summer for 3 hours so students and parents can access the computer lab, check out library books, and visit our onsite food pantry. With the opportunity to practice math, take books home to read, and have access to nutritious food, students are less likely to fall behind.
Though we are optimistic about our program and excited to offer our students these summer learning opportunities, the program could be much more robust if we had additional funding. One integral funding source of summer learning programs is the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. With this program at-risk of being cut, thousands of children across Utah will not have opportunities to improve academically through summer school and afterschool programs.
South Kearns Elementary is serious about changing the odds for our children. In order to do this, our teachers, administrators, parents, and students need programs like 21st Century Community Learning Center grants that support the needs of our school.
Afterschool and summer school programs matter to Utah families. Take action to ensure these programs can continue keeping kids on track in school!