Students smile as they attempt to disengage themselves from a “Human Knot,” one of many team building activities facilitated by trained Summer Bridge student leaders who assist teachers in the PREP 4 SUCCESS (P4S) Summer Bridge program for students entering ninth grade. Summer programs such as P4S benefit all students, particularly those from disadvantaged populations.
Numerous studies have cited the phenomenon of “Summer Slide,” the idea that kids fall behind on measures of academic achievement over the summer months. Without the opportunity to practice skills, most students lose about two months of grade equivalency in math computation. Low-income youth tend to lose more than two months in reading achievement as well, while their middle-class peers typically make slight gains. (Cooper, Nye, Charlton, & Greathouse, 1996) This disparity can have long reaching effects, especially as we look at the cumulative impact over years. Differences in a child’s summer learning experiences during his elementary school years can impact whether that child ultimately earns a high school diploma and continues on to college (Alexander, Entwistle, & Olson, 2007)
The table below shows how great the impact of the lack of access to summer learning can be. During the school year, disadvantaged youth and middle-class youth show similar cumulative gains on the California Achievement Test in reading over elementary school years and summers. Sample consists of Baltimore Public School students who entered first grade in 1982. Test “scale scores” are California Achievement Test scores calibrated to measure growth over a student’s 12-year career.
PREP 4 SUCCESS Summer Bridge allows students in underserved areas to have free, safe, and enriching academic experiences while developing strong relationships with teachers and peers. Students are challenged and nurtured in the half-day program which also provides breakfast and lunch. Preliminary data shows that ninth graders who participated in PREP 4 SUCCESS the summer before entering high school do better academically and socially than their peers who did not. (Bravo Medical Magnet survey of teachers, September 2016). This is an issue of equitable preparation for all students, regardless of family resources.