Educators have known about summer learning loss for years, but
Catherine Lindroth, part of a new generation of Delaware education visionaries, developed a way to do something about it. She founded The Summer Learning Collaborative, a nonprofit funded by local foundations and businesses that develops and provides educational programming to enhance the traditional summer camp experience for low-income and minority youth.
Q: What is summer learning loss?
Catherine Lindroth: It’s a phenomenon where students lose academic and developmental learning between spring and fall. You can see the loss in reading and math assessments. It is especially severe for low-income children.
Q: How did The Summer Learning Collaborative get started and how many children is it reaching now?
CL: It was incubated through the Delaware office of Teach For America and became an independent program three years ago with partnerships at four community centers. This summer, we will serve about 3,000 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, statewide at nearly 20 community-based sites. We will also employ about 70 high school students, giving them meaningful work experiences.
Q: How does the Collaborative enhance summer camps?
CL: In a traditional summer camp, you see kids having fun, with some structured activities, some sports, arts and crafts, maybe a science experiment. For two hours a day throughout the summer, the Collab provides fun and engaging challenges, delivered by trained staff members, to help kids develop their confidence to solve problems. The programs are targeted to help children come out of the summer making significant gains in areas that they’ll need to improve when they return to school.
Q: What are your results?
CL: For 2017, 86 percent of our students showed no summer learning loss, 66 percent of them improved their academic performance, and 40 percent showed gains of three months or more. And we did it at a cost of only $411 per child.