Summer Learning Matters


Students lose an average of 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency during the summer.[1] Said another way, one summer vacation rips two and a half months of learning from the average child.

Research shows that when we stop practicing, procedural skills and facts are most likely to be forgotten.[2] That means math, followed by reading and writing, suffer the most during the lazy days of summer.

SummerThis chart from Dr. Beth Miller, published by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, tells us that low socioeconomic status (SES) children, who have less access to traditional summer school programs than their peers from higher earning families, begin school slightly behind high SES students. Look then at the plateau, or even decrease, that occurs between Spring and Fall. These summer breaks are where lots of children lose ground academically. After four years, the problem snowballs such that the gap between high and low SES students is considerable.

If only students enjoyed sitting in classrooms all summer long. While that’s not likely to happen, parents and schools can utilize online summer learning programs to give students the flexibility they desire while also maintaining active minds during the long summer break.

Online learning has garnered more and more support as it grows in prevalence, effectiveness, and value. According to a meta study conducted by the Department of Education: “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.”[3] This reveals just how valuable the opportunity to take classes online during the summer can be. Students can stop that negative learning plateau or loss and turn summer into a time of significant gain.

Furthermore, 61% of the presidents of four-year liberal arts colleges, 79% of presidents of research universities, and 82% of those at community colleges report that their institutions offer classes that are taught exclusively online.[4] These numbers demonstrate yet another benefit of online learning during high school: preparation for college.

Taking a class or two online during the summer offers numerous benefits. Students can still feel the freedom that comes with summer without losing out on valuable academic opportunities to learn new skills, strengthen math and writing abilities, and prepare for college.


[1] Dr. Beth Miller. “The Learning Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement.” Nellie Mae Education Foundation. 2007.

[2] Cooper, H., Charlton, K., Valentine, J. C., & Muhlenbruck, L. “Making the most of summer school: A meta-analytic and narrative review,” 2000.

[3] U.S. Department of Education. “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning,” 2010.

[4] Sloan Foundation. “Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *