Summer Brain Drain

Grab your capes and grab your books: a superhero book club is headed your way.

As the school year winds down, many area libraries are about to begin their summer reading programs with the national theme of “Every Hero Has a Story.” They are planning their own superhero events to motivate kids to continue reading during their break to avoid what is known as the “summer slide.”

Only 17 percent of parents believe reading is a top summer priority for their children.

That’s according to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s, which released a survey regarding parents’ attitude’s towards reading Wednesday.

The survey also showed that children spend almost three times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading during the summer.

Kathryn Heffernan, Pittsburgh’s RIF assistant director of communications and development, said accessibility to books is one of the issues.

The Ellis School has launched the new Learning Innovation Institute to pilot, create and share innovative practices with the ultimate goal of improving learning outcomes for students and teaching outcomes for instructors.

As the school year ends, summer learning loss, or "summer slide," might begin.  According to the National Summer Learning Association, the loss amounts to about two months in math for all students and two months in reading for low-income students, while unequal access to summer learning opportunities might  account for half the achievement gap between low- and high-income students.

A New York City-based childhood education foundation is assessing summer learning programs across the country, including one in Pittsburgh.

The Wallace Foundation, a supporter of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers Academy, hired Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group, to see if summer education programs improve student learning.

Senior Research and Evaluation Officer Ann Stone said the foundation is looking for ways students can have academic gains that last.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

The school year has ended or will soon end for students in the Pittsburgh area. That means the start of summer vacation. 

Research shows that during the summer, students lose some of what they learned just weeks and months earlier. Experts say motivating kids to continue learning through fun and engaging activities, programs and camps can help bridge the end of one school year to the beginning of the next and ease or eliminate the summer setback.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

If you consume any amount of media at all, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the idea that kids tend to lose ground academically during the summer months.

But what is the so-called “summer brain drain?” Is it real, or a media invention? And just how concerned should you be?