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Tuscaloosa Academic Enrichment



Summer Slide


Academic studies have consistently shown that all young people – but especially those from low income families – experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer (Cooper, Nye, Charleton, Lindsay, & Greathouse, 1996).


Student achievement for both middle and low-income students improves at similar rates during the school year.  During the summer, however, low-income youth experience cumulative summer learning losses contributing to a widening of the achievement gap over the course of several years (Alexander & Entwisel, 2002). On average, students loose approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months, regardless of income level (Cooper et al.).  Low-income youth, however, experience far greater summer learning losses than their higher-income peers, particularly in reading.  On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance over the summer months.  Low-income students experience, on average, over two months’ loss in reading achievement (Cooper et al.).


Many researchers believe that summer learning losses are a main cause of the widening achievement gaps between low-income minority and white middle-class students in the United States (Kornhaver et al.).


In recent years, many formal summer school programs focus narrowly on providing remediation for students who have fallen behind academically.  These programs typically offer little opportunity for kids to participate in activities associated with enrichment, such as leadership development and exposure to the arts. 


Studies have shown that young people learn best when they are learning in connection to something that interests them or to things they already know or have experienced.  This is a major reason why many successful summer programs focus on thematic learning which offer a framework for learning that allows young people to engage deeply in exercises that are both remedial and enriching.


Summer programs that focus on increased academic achievement as well as cultural enrichment have been linked to a number of positive outcomes for kids, including:

  • Higher attendance and increased levels of achievement during the school year
  • Increased motivation, engagement and enjoyment of schooling
  • Increased skill development, character development, and decision-making skills
  • Reduced incidents of disruptive and risky behaviors of violence
  • Higher levels of promotion to the next grade




Alexander, K. L., & Entwisel, “Schools and Children at Risk.” In A. Booth, & J. F. Don (Eds.), Family-School links:  How Do They Affect Educational Outcome?  Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.


Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charleton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S., Multiple Intelligences:  The Theory in Practice.  New York:  Basic Books, 1996.


Kornhaver et al., 2004.