There is a new study on making the fight against summer slide – the phenomenon that when students return to school after the long summer break, they likely will have lost some academic ground – more effective:
An intervention at high-poverty elementary schools in Florida dramatically improved reading achievement by providing students with a collection of self-selected books at the end of each school year. Dr. Kelly aimed to improve literacy among low-income Rochester City School students by replicating the Florida intervention.
“This is a tremendous challenge in Rochester,” Dr. Kelly said. “Only 21 percent of Rochester students are proficient on the state English/language arts exam, and the high school graduation rate is an abysmal 43 percent.”
Researchers initiated a pilot project in 2013, holding a book fair for a class of 18 second-graders at the end of the school year. Students could choose 13 free books at the fair. Another second-grade class of 20 students served as a control group, receiving a few books mailed to them over the summer by a community group based on their grade and reading level. All students had reading assessments in the spring and following fall.
Results showed statistically significant improvements in reading scores among students in the intervention group but no change in scores among the control group (source).
I would like to suggest the researchers from this study to check this British report on accelerated reading. An Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)-funded study into the use of Accelerated Reader in England found that students who used the program recorded higher literacy scores than those who did not.
Asbtract of the summer slide study:
BACKGROUND: Reading proficiency is a critical skill and an important determinant of health. Summer learning loss, the “summer slide,” refers to the academic loss, or failure to make continued gains, during summer vacation, which is worst among low-income students. One intervention in high-poverty primary schools in Florida provided students with self-selected books at the end of the year, dramatically improving students’ reading achievement (Allington 2010).
OBJECTIVE: Improve literacy among Rochester City School students by providing free self-selected books to stem summer learning loss.
DESIGN/METHODS: Eighteen children in one 2nd grade class at an urban primary school each received 13 self-selected books at the end of the school year; 20 children in the other control class received book from the current community program (a few unselected books mailed to them over the summer). All students had literacy assessments (Developmental Reading Assessment) in the spring and the following fall. In the spring of 2014, this intervention was expanded: four classes of kindergarten through second grade students received 13 self-selected books. The control intervention was modified, based on ethical concerns, given the success of the prior year intervention, to include some student selection of books and batch delivery at the end of the school year; one first and one second grade class in the same school served as modified controls.
RESULTS: The pilot showed a statistically significant improvement in reading score over the summer in students who received books (paired t-test, p-value 0.01), and no statistically significant change in reading scores among the control class of students (paired t-test, p-value 0.22). With replication on a larger scale and modification of the control intervention, there was no significant difference between the reading scores of students in the two groups (n=67 intervention, n=20 in control). Both groups saw overall average gains in reading scores and had low rates of “summer slide,” with more than 75% of students maintaining or improving their reading, compared to an average summer learning loss of one month seen in prior studies (meta-analysis, Cooper 1996).
CONCLUSIONS: Providing books to students over the summer was associated with improved reading scores overall. The results of the modified control group in the expanded intervention suggest that receiving some books, even with more limited self-selection, may stem the summer reading loss.