Match More: Ending the Summer Slide

During every recess period, Carla reads and talks about a new book with Ms. Davis. A year ago, she arrived in sixth grade two grade levels behind in reading.  She refused to read aloud in class. Every minute of guided reading makes the difference to her, and she's now only six months behind grade level. What Carla needs is a summer filled with trips to the library, museums and a guided reading program to help her select, read and talk about books.  But last summer, she visited the library only once and hung out at home. 

During sixth grade, Kevin was eager to do well in school and to make his parents and teachers proud.  But things changed the following year. There was stress at home and the family budget was too tight for him to participate in the local baseball league. His drive to excel faded to underperformance in school. Kevin needs an idyllic summer camp where he can be a kid and can get back in touch with his hopes and dreams and re-imagine himself.  He told us he was a little “bored this summer."  

Unfortunately, these stories are all too common.  Stories like Kevin and Carla’s have inspired us to launch a new initiative called Match More, that will aim to give all our students access to amazing summer experiences. 

Research compiled by the National Summer Learning Association show that during the school year, lower-income children’s skills improve at close to the same rate as those of their more advantaged peers. But over the summer, middle and higher-income children’s skills continue to improve, while lower-income children’s skills stall.  What happens when all the summers of "hanging out" pile up? Summer learning loss, also known as the “Summer Slide” or “Summer Setback.”

The impact of summer learning loss is serious academic and life consequences for our kids. Consider the research.

  • Two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap between disadvantaged youth and their more advantaged peers can be explained by the unequal access to to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years (Alexander et al, 2007). All the losses pile up, contributing to an achievement gap that can make the difference between whether students set out on a college path or decide to drop out of high school.
  • By the time a low-income student reaches 6th grade, she has had 6,000 fewer hours of learning time than her middle- and upper-income peers.
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).
  • Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007).

Our mission at Match More is to give all our students access to amazing summer experiences - in the great outdoors, sports, academics, the arts, service and beyond.  

For students like Carla, an academic program is essential this summer. She needs a program like Summer Ink at Simmons College where she'll go on interesting field trips and end her day writing about her experiences. For students like Kevin, an overnight camp like Brantwood, situated in the great outdoors with a focus on leadership development, will re-ignite his passion to learn and make good choices.  

In a parent survey of Match families this fall, 90% of families stated that cost as the #1 barrier to enrolling kids in summer programs.  Here is what Match More does to help:           

  • We identify high quality summer programs across New England.
  • We partner with these programs to secure free or subsidized placements for Match students.
  • We work with families to identify the right opportunity for their child, and we help them apply.
  • We raise funds to cover partial tuition, transportation and other incidental costs.

Help us end the summer slide for Match students. Click on MatchMore to donate and become a fundraiser.