Friday, June 6, 2014

Arne Duncan suggests year-round school as a solution to the summer slide. I disagree.

Arne Duncan has suggested that year-round school is the solution to the summer slide.  Thanks to the common core, year-round school will make things worse.

Research tells us that those living in poverty have the least access to books. Students living in poverty also show the most summer loss, and those who read more over the summer make better gains in reading achievement. Providing more access to interesting reading material by investing in public libraries and librarians is an excellent way to deal with summer learning loss.
School during the summer means more common core, and less chance of pleasure reading happening. The common core discourages pleasure reading, because of its harsh set of standards, nonstop testing, and restriction to reading at or above "grade level," which for half of our students means a limitation to difficult reading (by definition, half of the students read below grade level, because grade level means the 50th percentile). In addition, there is less funding than ever for school libraries, thanks the huge amount of money being spent on online testing.
Some sources:
Poverty and access to books: Neuman, S. and Celano, D. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income communities. Reading Research Quarterly 36(1): 8-26.

Summer loss and poverty, more reading and gains:
Allington, R. and McGill-Franzen, Anne. 2012. Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap. New York: Teachers College Press.
Heyns, Barbara. 1975.  Summer Learning and the Effect of School. New York: Academic Press.
Kim, Jimmy. 2003. Summer reading and the ethnic achievement gap, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk 9, no. 2:169-188.
Shin, Fay. and Krashen, Stephen. 2007. Summer Reading: Program and Evidence. New York: Allyn and Bacon.
The common core and reading: Krashen, S. 2013. Access to books and time to read versus the common core standards and tests.  English Journal 103(2): 21-39. (available at


  1. Arnie's financial friends will advise him of the old stock trading adage: "while good deals tend to get better over time, bad deals always continue to deteriorate". Shut down for the summer and hope that a significant number of teachers will continue to do good things with children.

  2. Let's talk serendipity. This morning I saw a figure in a Haertel paper that started me working on this.

    After creating the graphic and the coresponding tweet I noticed that Dr. Paul Thomas had tweeted the above Dr. Krashen post.

  3. The costs of installing air conditioning and running it in in all public schools are reason enough to discard this misguided suggestion from Duncan. Without A/C, on this warming planet, having school meet in summer would be a form of child (and teacher) abuse.