3rd Grade Reading Success Matters

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Summer Learning Loss

Research spanning 100 years has proven that students lose ground academically when they are out of school for the summer. The problem is particularly acute among low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, which slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency. And it exacerbates the achievement gap with their middle-class peers.

Funders, policymakers, and community leaders can help schools and local organizations address summer learning loss by supporting strong programs engaging more children in summer learning opportunities. Transcending the punitive and remedial model of summer school, summer learning’s new form is a blend of core academic learning, hands-on activities, arts, sports, technology, and meaningful relationships.



Summer Learning Day, celebrated on June 20 this year, is a national advocacy platform that can help the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading build awareness and inspire action for summer learning and reading across the network of Campaign communities. This year, the Campaign and National Summer Learning Association are challenging communities to act on one or more of the following six priorities:

  •  Get healthy and get smart. We will offer nutritious meals and physical activities daily as a part of summer learning experiences in libraries, schools, camps, and other locations across our community.
  • Make every word count. We will intentionally integrate daily reading and other literacy-related activities into summer experiences to create language-rich environments for PreK-3rd grade students throughout our community.
  •  Start young. We will focus on expanding opportunities during the summer before kindergarten to ensure that children form strong attendance habits and start school ready for success.
  • Follow the numbers. We will engage our school district in efforts to identify particular needs and track the progress of our children over the summer months and beyond.
  • Determine demand. We will assess the local demand for and supply of high-quality summer learning opportunities to better understand gaps in service for children who need it the most.
  • Engage families. We will educate and equip families to understand the benefits of quality summer learning, find local summer opportunities, and support summer learning at home.

Signing the pledge will help to support ongoing coalition work to ensure that more low-income children can read proficiently by the end of third grade. Communities can either pledge to expand or build on action that they have already begun, or they can pledge to launch something new.

Get Started Now

Step 1: Learn about the pledge.

Step 2: Talk to coalition and decide which action your community will take.

Step 3: Sign the pledge.

Step 4: Receive tools and guidance from NSLA.

Step 5: Plan a SLD activity to celebrate your commitment.

Step 6: Add your Summer Learning Day activity on the map.

Learn how GLR Communities participated in summer learning in this 2013 Network in Action summary.


2 Months
Low-income students lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, while their middle-income peers tend to make gains in reading.

After 6 Years
By the end of fifth grade, disadvantaged children are nearly three grade equivalents behind their more affluent peers in reading.

6 Weeks
Studies show 6-week summer learning programs can produce statistically significant gains in reading performance.

What helps

Investment in summer programs should help align dollars from other programs—libraries, recreation, and juvenile services—to provide comprehensive programming that:

  1. Increases the duration and intensity of programming to a six-week, full-day model.
  2. Expands participation to all students in Title 1 schools, or all youth living in poverty.
  3. Changes the focus from narrow remediation and test preparation to one that blends academic learning in core subjects, hands-on activities, technology, and enrichment.
  4. Strengthens and expands partnerships between schools, community organizations, and public agencies to leverage resources, identify gaps, and improve programs.
  1. Provides incentives to students that improve attendance and engagement with enrichment activities such as arts, music, and sports and free breakfast and lunch.
  2. Offers innovative professional development for educators and youth development leaders.
  3. Engages in rigorous evaluation of implementation and impact to strengthen the evidence base for “what works.”
  4. Moves summer programs from the periphery to the core of school reform strategies through better planning, infrastructure, data collection, and accountability.