AUSTIN (KXAN) — The summer can be a time for kids to relax after a busy school year, but recent studies show for certain students the two month break can do more harm than good.
According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), low-income students can lose more than two months in reading achievement despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.
Teachers at Houston Elementary School in Southeast Austin have seen the problem first hand.
“We see their reading level at the end of the year sometimes they can drop a level or two levels over the summer,” said Heather Augustine.
The campus which serves low-income families applied for a grant to help pay for a summer reading camp, but the request was denied. The campus raised money on their own to send every child home with two books for the summer. They wanted to provide a way for students to exchange the books for new ones, so they decided to open a summer lending library on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I was really nervous that on the first day no kids would come and I would be sitting here with 600 books,” said Augustine.
On the first day, more than 60 kids showed up.
“Reading helps you learn things,” said 9-year-old Roney, a third grader at Houston Elementary.
E3 Alliance, an education collaborative in Austin, is joining other groups across the country to raise awareness about summer learning loss among economically disadvantaged students.
“Imagine at fifth grade those low income kids can be more than a year behind their non low income peers just because of summer,” said Laura Koenig, Director of School Readiness for E3 Alliance.
They are working with partners like the KDK Harman Foundation to provide free, accessible summer camps.
Back at Houston Elementary, teachers know their efforts will pay off.
‘At the beginning of the year we’ll be able to see kids that are still excited about reading, still motivated and ready to start the new school year,” said Augustine.