Skip to main content

What is the Summer Slide?

For the more than 25 million low-income public school students in America, summer is often anything but a vacation. Instead of a relaxing break to explore new interests and places, it’s often a time when children, youth and families struggle to find and afford food to eat and a safe place to be.

Summer learning loss also called the summer slide, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate. For many young people, the summer “achievement gap” contributes to gaps in achievement, employment and college and career success.

  • In Washington State, only 21% of school-age children participate in summer learning programs.
  • The parents of 49% of children in the state who are not already in a summer learning program would enroll their children in one, if a program were available to them – an indication of the considerable unmet demand for summer learning programs in the state.
  • Summer learning can help close the Achievement Gap. Summer learning programs targeted to low-income students can help close the achievement gap, caused at least in part by cumulative learning loss over summers, which that has been shown to be steeper for low-income students than for others.