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Carolyn Edwards, President, Clark County School Board

Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association

Victor Joecks, communications director, NPRI

Shannon Bassera, teacher, Desert Pines High School

Emily Schulkins, teacher, Sunrise Mountain High School

The school year begins in a couple of weeks. And in Clark County, it will start with a new superintendent and new funding for English Language Learners. We discussed those issues, along with school rankings and summer learning loss, with experts, teachers and educational leaders.

Expert on the Costs of Summer Learning Loss

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- In theory, summer is a time for kids to socialize with friends, attend stimulating cultural events, and get caught up on their Walt Whitman and Bronte sisters.

The reality is that school-age children, especially low-income children, often spend summers disengaged and under stimulated. This lack of intellectual activity comes at a high cost when they return to school.

Support comes from

“Low-income children in particular are losing two to three months of reading skills over the summer, and those losses tend to be cumulative,” says Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.

Huggins says that two-thirds of the achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss.

But that doesn’t mean summer vacations are a bad thing, says Huggins. “But it becomes costly when it’s a break from learning.”

Huggins says his organization surveyed 500 teachers in 16 school districts, and 66 percent said they spend at least three to four weeks reviewing material from the previous year. One third of those teachers said it was five to six weeks before they got started new material.

“We’re getting to Halloween in a lot of classrooms before we’re doing a lot that’s new,” says Huggins.

Huggins says families can help avoid summer learning loss by keeping children engaged  -- taking trips, visiting museums, and encouraging them to read.

“Read during the summer and keep those skills sharper,” says Huggins.

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