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Summer Slide, COVID Slide, and the Digital Divide

Summer learning loss, also known as the “Summer Slide”, is a well-documented phenomenon that education researchers have studied for over 100 years. “Summer Slide” describes the common experience of students losing some of what they learned the previous year because they are not academically engaged or challenged during the summer.

Three trends are consistent across summer learning research:

  • achievement typically slows or declines over the summer months.
  • declines tend to be steeper for math than for reading.
  • the extent (proportionally) of loss increases in the upper grades.

Students from third to eighth grade typically lose 15-30% of the gains made in math during the previous school year, and 5-15% of the gains in reading during the summer.


New research projects that these losses could worsen because of the school closures in spring 2020, a term now labeled the “COVID Slide.” Students in fourth through eighth grade may start school in the fall of 2020 having lost at least 50% of the previous year’s gains in math, with fifth graders potentially returning to school almost a full year behind. In reading, students could lose 30% of what they learned in the prior school year. 1

As schools rushed to launch remote learning to stem the “COVID Slide”, the rollout was not uniform exacerbating long-running inequities. Schools were unprepared to immediately shift to an online learning platform or distribute computer and internet resources to needy students. COVID-19 magnified the “Digital Divide” that has existed for years.

Digital Divide

Even before the pandemic, about 30% of all public K-12 students, lived in households either without an internet connection or device adequate for distance learning at home; and of these students, approximately 9 million students lived in households with neither an adequate connection nor an adequate devise for distance learning. The “Digital Divide” affects every state and type of community, but it is more pronounced in rural communities.

“In rural communities, 37% of students lack adequate internet compared to 25% in suburban households and 21% in urban areas.”2

When the pandemic hit, the quick transition to digital learning posed challenges for families who did not own personal computers, did not own enough devices, or had devices that were not equipped with the software needed to tune in to online classes. When students cannot connect because they lack the technology, they are not learning.

Compass Academy Network was designed to help rural middle schoolers overcome these challenges

Middle school is a critical time for students as they work to develop their own identities, confront physical changes, and face new social pressures. These students are particularly at risk as they are old enough to be left alone, but not old enough to make consistently good choices. These choices can impact a student’s trajectory in high school and beyond.

Compass Academy solves the “Summer Slide”, the “COVID Slide”, and the “Digital Divide” by re-engaging middle school students through rigorous academic summer enrichment learning with in-home and in-person programs.

“High-quality summer learning programs have been shown to improve reading and math skills, school “attachment,” motivation, and relationships with adults and peers.”
National Summer Learning Association

Compass Academy improves academic skills and builds critical social and emotional skills of middle schoolers. Students learn to define their own moral compass, develop their character and self-confidence, and become leaders and role models to their peers.

Students work towards finding their inner voice, discovering new interests and talents while strengthening their academic and study skills. Through our partnerships with local schools and our dedicated team of educators (and mentors) we give students new opportunities to develop a vision toward their future success in their school, career, and life.

Compass Academy Network’s high-quality summer enrichment learning program makes a difference!

1 Kuhfeld, Megan, James Soland, Beth Tarasawa, Angela Johnson, Erik Ruzek, and Jing Liu. (2020). Projecting the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement. (EdWorkingPaper: 20-226). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/cdrv-yw05

2 Chandra, S., Chang, A., Day, L., Fazlullah, A., Liu, J., McBride, L. Mudalige, T., Weiss, D., (2020). Closing the K-12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning. San Francisco, DA: Common Sense Media. Boston, Massachusetts, Boston Consulting Group.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

The Summer Slide

is what often happens to some children during the summer months. They tread water at best or even fall behind, while children with more opportunities build their skills steadily over the summer months.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

Most Students

lose two months of mathematical skills every summer, and children typically lose another two to three months in reading.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

Summer Learning

loss during elementary school accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading for children and their peers by ninth grade.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

The Achievement Gap

between children is roughly thirty to forty percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

Elementary school students

with high levels of attendance (at least five weeks) in voluntary Summer Learning Programs experience benefits in math and reading.

Childhood Learning & Development | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

9 in 10 Teachers

spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year.

Best Summer Program | Joplin MO | Compass Academy Network

Free Educational Summer Classes for Kids

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