Stop the Summer Brain Drain!

The Cedar Rapids Community Schools Foundation has been funding the Summer Literacy Program for District elementary students, in partnership with PEARSON, since 2009.  Why?  Because summer reading statistics are concrete and show the importance of keeping students reading during the summer months.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But the reality is very different.  When that last dismissal bell rings at the end of the school year, there are two major thought bubbles …

  • Student: “I get to sleep in! Enjoy days at the pool! Build my Minecraft world!”
  • Teacher: “How am I going to stop the brain drain!?”

The struggle is real, friends.

The Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2 notes that in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13:1, while in low-income neighborhoods that ratio drops to a staggering 1:300!

Sadly, the dismal statistics don’t stop.

Summer reading loss is also cumulative, meaning non-summer reading students DO NOT typically catch up in the Fall. Their peers are progressing with their skills, while they are only making up for their summer learning loss. Teachers spend an average of 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students have lost during the summer. By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills during the summer are on average two-years behind their peers.

But reading just 4-5 books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child’s Fall reading scores!

So, making summer literacy programs readily available in at-risk communities is critical.  The Foundation’s Summer Literacy Program keeps the District’s elementary school libraries open in our most at-risk population neighborhoods – which removes the barriers to transportation … because how are you going to read if you don’t have books at home and cannot get to a public library?

Join us in our commitment to Fixing Summer Brain Drain!

                                       Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.

                                                  It should be offered to them as a precious gift.    —Kate DiCamillo

Blog Author:              Karen A. Swanson, CFRE,  Executive Director, JHS Class of 1985