The YSS Blog had a post recently linking to this article about Summer Learning Loss.  The article calls into question the 30-year-old research that many of us have been using that points to a dramatic difference between students from high income and low income families, and how that gap is exacerbated by summer learning loss.  Because the measurement tools about this have changed, it has not been possible to replicate these results.

A gap in test scores still exists between students from high and low income families, but the author of this article argues that this gap stems mostly from early childhood (before kindergarten).  However, the author of the article points to the possibility of high quality, consistent summer learning opportunities providing kids who are behind with a chance to catch up to their peers, since there is quite a bit of evidence that for many kids, no matter their opportunities, summer is a time when learning slows down.

What does all this mean for libraries?  I have a few thoughts, and I’d be interested in yours!  We can discuss all this more at our Annual Youth Services Workshop, coming up September 26.  But here are a few take-aways for me:

  • Continue our focus on early childhood, supporting parents and caregivers, and think about how to serve families who have obstacles to using the library.
  • Think about why we want to offer opportunities for kids to learn in a less structured environment in the summer and year-round
    • Maybe improving test scores is not the reason
    • What social and emotional skills do kids get to develop at the library in the summer and year-round?
    • What kinds of opportunities can we offer that support learning and growth for everyone?
    • How do we make sure these opportunities are available to all the kids in our community?