Elementary school teachers have one of the most important jobs: teaching children how to read. From kindergarten to fifth grade, teachers work with students to improve their reading skills and get them fully prepared for the following grade. However, who is working with students to enhance their abilities during the summer months? Studies show that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading achievement over the summer. Although low and middle-income students learn at the same rate throughout the school year, middle-income students advance their knowledge over the summer. Meanwhile, with lack of access to learning materials, low-income students are often falling behind, increasing the achievement gap between the two income groups each summer. By the end of fifth grade, low-income students can be two to three years behind their middle-class peers.
This ongoing problem will continue to cycle if efforts are not made to change it. Our goal is to create opportunities for all students to advance over the summer through Summer Alignment Programs and after school tutoring. MISD has joined with Educate Midland and a group of our community partners to share and utilize the school system’s online math and reading tools in a variety of summer programs for MISD students. Our goal is to support our partners to facilitate a summer learning environment where students not only maintain their reading level, but excel into the next school year.
XTO Energy’s generous funding and donations have helped us in aligning seven partners for these summer programs. For students to access the available online resources, we have donated new and repurposed laptops to YMCA, Kaleidoscope Ministries, Casa De Amigo’s, Unlock Ministries, Breaking Bread Kitchen, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Permian Basin for a total of more than 100 laptops donated for students’ use. Our seventh partner, Greater Ideal Baptist Church, did not need any technology donated but will still be utilizing the reading and math resources to track a progression of students in their summer program. MISD will also provide technical support throughout the summer to ensure the successful use of these learning tools for our students.
There were 900 participants a day in 2018, and we are currently up to 1600 participants a day in 2019. We hope that these numbers will continue to rise each summer and our list of Summer Alignment partners will increase, allowing us to help as many MISD students as possible. Advancing reading levels among low-income students over the summer is not only possible, but achievable.