If you’re wondering why Summer Reading Quest was created, as well as why it’s SO important that students read over the summer, you’ve come to the right place.
Why should students read over the summer?
There is a wealth of research that studies the effects of a phenomenon known as “summer reading loss.” In short, students who don’t read over the summer enter September with lower skills than they ended the previous school year with in June. Over the course of several years, this effect compounds itself — creating big gaps in students’ literacy levels.
In the past, we’ve surveyed parents, students, and teachers about their sentiments toward summer reading. Some interesting data from our most recent (2017) survey:
- The majority of respondents (70%) expressed that summer reading should be implemented in some form.
- The majority of respondents indicated that student choice should be embedded into a summer reading program.
- The majority of respondents (63%) expressed that “maintaining content skills” is a primary benefit of summer reading. (“Encouraging a love of learning” came in second place.)
Beyond reading heaps of high quality research and surveying parents, teachers, and students, we also conducted data analyses of our own. We compared pre-summer and post-summer reading levels for Roxbury students who completed summer reading and those who did not, and we found the same trends in the data. Students who completed summer reading saw increases in their literacy skills, while students who did not complete summer reading saw significant losses. The data looked like this:
So here’s what we know for sure, and here are the guiding design principles behind Summer Reading Quest:
- Students who don’t read over the summer see a drop in literacy levels. This is bad for students in the short-term, and even worse for students in the long-term. (When we analyzed our own students in Roxbury, we found the same trends in the data.) If we want what’s best for our students, they must read over the summer.
- “Choice” is incredibly important. This was indicated in both parent and student surveys, and is reflected in scholarly research on student motivation and engagement. Students of all ages and ability levels value the opportunity to choose what they read and how they read it, especially over summer break.
- We want our students to love reading. Over 400 of our Spring 2017 survey respondents expressed that fostering a love for reading and learning should be at the forefront of our summer reading program. This notion has been central to the work that Roxbury’s ELA / English teachers have been doing to inspire students to read often and on their own terms (e.g. the “Book Love” initiative). We also know that students who love reading typically read what interests them (CHOICE!), and read abundantly (HIGHER LITERACY LEVELS!).
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Marc Cicchino, Supervisor of English for grades 6 through 12, at firstname.lastname@example.org.