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Opinion

Larson: Good to see summer learning becoming the norm

Community Voice

David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.
David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

Given that students who attend summer school are poised for greater academic success during the regular school year, it is encouraging to see a growing culture of students taking summer school classes.

In Glenbard District 87, nearly 40 percent of our students enrolled in summer school this year. They took classes in math, English, social studies, science, Mandarin, consumer management and more. They also explored areas of interest through enrichment courses and prepared for the next level of rigor through Bridge classes. These classes align with our priorities related to students:

• Enrolling in algebra 2 with trigonometry or higher and physics or higher
• Pursuing an area that they’re passionate about
• Earning a college-ready score on the ACT or SAT exam
• Passing at least one Advanced Placement exam during their time in Glenbard.

Impact of summer slide

Students who do not take advantage of summer school lag behind their classmates when the regular school year begins. Research shows that students who take a 12-week break from learning need several weeks to get up to speed. For example, in the area of math, students lose about 2.5 months in their grade-level equivalency in computational ability over the summer, according to a Duke University study. In addition, the achievement gap between students from low-income families and those from middle- or upper-class families widens, according to the study.

Global differences in school calendar

Compared to students in other developed countries, students in America have the most time off from school. While it’s healthy for children to enjoy free time, taking a class during the summer is critical to keeping students in the learning mode.

Simple step to boost reading skills

Something as simple as encouraging students to read 20 minutes each day will make a difference when the regular school year resumes. A great choice is the Glenbard Parent Series’ community read selection, “Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother.” After reading the book, come hear the book's author, Sonia Nazario, discuss the book at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Glenbard East High School.

Activities can prevent learning loss

In addition to taking a summer school class, the following activities can prevent the summer slide:

• Journaling about summer experiences
• Visiting your local library
• Exploring an aquarium, arboretum, zoo, museum and/or forest preserve
• Cooking (enhances math and reading skills).

Summer school is a valuable opportunity for students who are doing well and want to go further academically, as well as for students who are struggling and need to catch up. It also provides structure and purpose to students’ summer. It’s encouraging to see summer school becoming the norm, rather than the exception.

David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

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