Update, October 26, 2017: Make Summer Count has won the Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence for Demonstrating Successful Strategies to Help Prevent Summer Learning Loss. Click here to learn more.
Summer reading is a critical issue for students across the country to help avoid the summer slide, the loss of academic skills that can occur while school is out—responsible for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students.
To dive deeper into how summer reading activities directly contribute to reducing or stemming this summer reading loss, the Scholastic Research & Validation team teamed up with the nonprofit Public Education Partners (PEP) last year to conduct a new research study exploring the effects of Make Summer Count—a reading initiative in Greenville County Schools in South Carolina supporting summer learning for over 18,000 students in grades K–5 across 29 higher-needs elementary schools. Our findings revealed that by providing increased access to books and family engagement through Make Summer Count 2016, a majority of students maintained or increased their reading levels over the summer of 2016 and that the program had an overall positive impact on students’ reading habits and attitudes.
To learn more about the Make Summer Count 2016 research study, download:
Through this reading initiative, PEP and Scholastic provided participating students with the opportunity to select 11 books of their choice to take home for summer reading. Twenty-three Family Reading Night events were hosted throughout the summer to engage families to support their children’s learning. To evaluate the impact of Make Summer Count, over 9,000 surveys were distributed in spring 2016 and then again in fall 2016 to students in grades 3–5. In addition, 1,897 surveys were distributed to families in the late spring and late summer and 18,300 book logs were distributed to students in grades 1–5 to track their summer reading.
Here’s what we found:
The majority of students who participated in Make Summer Count did not experience summer loss in literacy skills that is typically associated with students in higher-needs schools.
- Seventy-eight percent of students in grades 3–5 maintained or increased their reading levels from spring to fall 2016
Students read more books over the summer than the national average.
- Students read an average of 14.7 books, compared to the national average of 12 books—a statistic reported in the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 6th Edition.
Students reported a substantial increase in reading stamina and confidence.
The percentage of students who read for one hour or more without stopping grew from 13% to 26%.
Eighty-two percent of students agreed that they were better readers after the summer.
Families overwhelmingly found the Make Summer Count program to be valuable.
Ninety-eight percent agreed that their children were better readers because of summer reading.
Ninety-nine percent of families agreed that the program contributed to their children reading more books over the summer.
One hundred percent found Family Reading Nights valuable for learning about how to support their children’s reading.
As educators across the country look ahead to summer, these preliminary findings demonstrate the powerful relationship between increased access to books and family engagement to prevent the summer reading loss, and highlight the need for not only sustainable summer programs, but also a year-round focus on literacy.