Summer Learning Results Show Progress in Closing Achievement Gap

June 20, 2014

89% of K-3 Students in 2013 Summer Learning Collaborative Avoided Learning Loss

Results from United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s nationally recognized Summer Learning Collaborative (SLC), released today, on National Summer Learning Day, show measurable progress in reducing the achievement gap, as 89% of the 2,300 low income K-3 students who participated in the 2013 program successfully avoided summer learning loss.

Results from the 2013 Summer Learning Collaborative show:

  • 89% of children avoided summer reading loss
  • Children showed 2.4 months of growth in literacy skills
  • 85% of children report enjoying reading more at the end of the summer
  • 89% of staff stated that it improved program curriculum and activities

Rather than building new programs from the ground up, the SLC invests in existing summer programs, focusing on communities with turnaround school districts where reading proficiency rates are lower than the state average. A partnership between United Way, community-based organizations, school districts, and professional development organizations (BOSTnet, the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, and the Center for Childcare Careers), the SLC improves outcomes by focusing on professional development for program staff, increasing program capacity, and making reading fun for students.

“Reading proficiency by the end of third grade has been identified as one of the key indicators of a child’s long-term potential for success in school and beyond,” said Michael K. Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay & MerrimackValley. “Our experience with the SLC confirms that low-income children in particular are vulnerable to summer learning loss, but that with the right resources, we can help them minimize losses and even achieve sustainable gains during the summer.”

Results from the SLC have continued to improve year after year, with the program entering its 5th summer in 2014.  Based on its demonstrated success from previous years, the project has been sustained through the generous support of Target Corporation, the AGM Summer Fund, Pioneer Investments and individual donors.

Endorsed by education leaders and nearly a dozen best-selling local children’s authors such as Jan Brett, Grace Lin, Peter Reynolds and Mark Peter Hughes, this scalable model yields immediate improvements in children’s literacy skills and overall program quality, all at a cost of less than $200 per child.

“Every moment we spend in school is precious, but when the students are slipping backwards over the summer it makes our work during the 180 days of school even more challenging.  That is why it is essential for parents and schools to seek out effective learning opportunities for their students during the summer months,” said Matthew Stahl, Principal at Pawtucketville Memorial Elementary School in Lowell, and coach for the Summer Learning Collaborative.

2013 SLC results by community:

Greater Boston

Total Served: 1,375

88% avoided learning loss

  • BCYF Holland
  • CommunityArtsCenter
  • Ellis Memorial
  • Dorchester Boys & Girls Club
  • Dorchester YMCA
  • East Boston YMCA
  • Egelston YMCA
  • Oak Square YMCA
  • Somerville YMCA
  • Wang YMCA


Total Served: 114

94% avoided learning loss

  • Greater Lawrence Community Action Council
  • Lawrence YMCA
  • Lawrence YWCA


Total Served: 145

89% avoided learning loss

  • CTI McAuliffe
  • CTI Pawtucketville
  • Girls Inc. Lowell


Total Served: 392

89% avoided learning los

  • CampFireNorthShore
  • Girls Inc. Lynn
  • Gregg House
  • Lynn YMCA