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[Susan notes: Sending "those" kids to summer school is such a tired and easy attempt to solve the skill problem. Stephen Krashen offers evidence for a better solution.]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published

To the editor

Jay Mathews notes that that academic achievement declines for

low-income students over the summer and concludes that "Summer school

is a great tool, if only more students would use it" (June 28). The

decline in reading achievement over the summer, however, is actually

an argument for increased funding for public libraries, not summer


Some of the research reports on the summer slump, including Barbara

Heyns' original study of summer learning published in 1975 and Jimmy

Kim's more recent research, strongly suggest that scores go down

during the summer because low-income children have less access to

public libraries and other sources of books and don't do as much

pleasure reading.

The implication: More funding for public libraries in low-income

areas, and a more cautious approach to increasing time dedicated to

traditional instruction. Too much traditional instruction could limit

time for wide, self-selected voluntary reading, the single most

important factor in improving reading achievement.


Heyns, Barbara. 1975. Summer Learning and the Effect of School. New

York: Academic Press.

Kim, Jimmy. 2003. âSummer reading and the ethnic achievement gap,â

Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk 9, no. 2:169-188.

Jay Mathews: Summer school is a great tool, if only more students

would use it


Stephen Krashen

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