Reducing Literacy Loss and the "Summer Slide"

Summertime means a lot more than just popsicles, pool time, and parades for the team at Read Fort Worth. In fact, summer presents one of Read Fort Worth’s biggest opportunities in achieving its early literacy mission of 100% of 3rd graders reading by 2025. The organization’s biggest summer goal?  Ensure students hold onto valuable literacy skills they have achieved over the past year.

Read Fort Worth’s vehicle to achieve this goal is its successful Summer Scholars Collaborative, now entering its second year of helping local Fort Worth students maintain or gain in their reading skills over the summer and prevent harmful “summer slide.” 

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Why a Focus on “Summer Slide”?

Summer learning loss, or “summer slide”, can cause lower-income children to fall 2.5 to 3 years behind their peers by the time they reach fifth grade.[1] As high-quality summer learning programs have been proven to effectively counteract this trend, the Summer Scholars Collaborative has worked together with local agencies over the last two years to adopt this as a key project within Read Fort Worth’s collective impact umbrella.

Summer Scholars Collaborative 

The Summer Scholars Collaborative is a critical strategic partnership helping to drive forward Read Fort Worth’s early literacy goals.  Research shows that well-designed summer programs can improve academic outcomes — particularly for low-income students — and underscores the need to evaluate the efficacy of these summer programs designed to maintain or facilitate academic gains.[2]

To this end, the Summer Scholars Collaborative has partnered with FWISD to utilize a shared evaluation system to measure students’ literacy progress over the summer months and provide direct feedback to summer program sites regarding student outcomes.  A common metric system enables summer programs with different specialties to understand which pieces of literacy instruction are most effective for their specific student populations, and how their approach(es) may be scaled for broader impact.

2018 Results: An Early Win for Reversing “Summer Slide”

The 2018 Summer Scholars Collaborative work resulted in a huge win  - with 71% of participating students maintaining or gaining in their literacy skills.

The 2018 cohort was comprised of eight summer program providers who agreed to:

1) Implement summer literacy program best practices

2) Offer quality summer learning programs for a duration of 6-7 weeks

3) Measure literacy achievement for children ages 5 to 9

4) Use a common assessment tool to determine whether participating children grew in literacy skills over the summer.

The 2018 cohort members served approximately 800 total children across 21 sites last summer. Each organization received Fort Worth ISD-supported training in literacy instruction and assessment. Literacy guides conducted the student assessments and also provided enhanced literacy support at each cohort member site.

These 2018 summer cohort providers included:

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Plan for 2019

Assessment results from 2018 have been aggregated and shared with the Summer Scholars Collaborative providers as a tool for the group’s and individual providers’ continuous improvement. This year, the Collaborative is expected to serve 1,500 rising K-3rd graders in 52 program sites run by 8 program providers in high-need areas across the city.   

Through a data sharing agreement with Fort Worth ISD, the Collaborative will compare pre- and post-reading assessment scores to better understand what level of dosage and type of intervention has the biggest impact on summer learning loss.  This will help to inform broader community efforts on how to efficiently and effectively scale programming in order to serve the highest need children during the critical summer months. 

Read Fort Worth is led by Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, and former BSNF Chairman Matt Rose, along with a governing Executive Council of local business and philanthropic leaders – and is supported by a staff of seven professionals to help move the needle on local early literacy.

The Read Fort Worth leadership team and its Summer Scholars Collaborative agencies celebrated the kick-off of the 2019 summer efforts during its Launch Party on May 29, 2019. 

The Miles Foundation is pleased to support the Summer Scholars Collaborative and the agencies that are dedicated to ensuring all children reach their highest potential in school and in life.

To learn more, visit http://www.ReadFortWorth.org.

[1] National Summer Learning Association

[2] Preventing Summer Learning Loss: Results of a Summer Literacy Program for Students from Low-SES Homes, Lisa M. Bowers and Ilsa Schwartz

Sara Redington