Providence educators looking to improve summer learning loss

Providence Schools

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As students return to the classroom, teachers are faced with the task of getting them back up to speed after a summer-long “brain drain.”

In Providence, there’s an effort to combat this issue and cut down on how much knowledge students lose over the break.

Chris Maher, Superintendent of Providence Schools, said his students lose about one-third of what they know about math and a little less than that in English over summer break. According to educators, the first few days back at school allow the kids to adjust to their new routine.

“Soon after that, we’ll do an assessment to see where students stand and see which students need different interventions but across the board, it does have a pretty significant impact – especially on urban school districts like Providence,” Maher said.

This summer, some Providence sixth grade students had the chance to participate in City Year’s first ever Summer Leadership Academy. A task force comprised of education policy and community leaders also issued a report in February with a series of recommendations to help the city combat learning loss. Maher said he wants the task force to reconvene to review what the city’s already tried.

“We had a lot of really awesome activities for kids over the summer, from your traditional reading and math classes to working in a steel yard to doing graphic design,” Maher said. “Because part of what you want to do is just keeping kids engaged and we know that’s also good for the city in terms of keeping them off the streets in the summer.”

According to Maher, curbing summer learning loss means getting creative and breaking from the norm.

“For the first time, if you were in an athletic program in the rec center over the summer, for a half hour you dropped everything and you read for half an hour,” he said. “And we know the benefits of reading for just 20 to 30 minutes a day for kids especially when they are not going to school.”

Providence students head back to school on Tuesday.

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