The city of Akron, with assistance from Akron Public Schools and Summit Education Initiative (SEI), has launched a summer reading program to help Akron students – grades kindergarten through second grade – practice their reading with support from a community volunteer, June 6 through Aug. 18.
“The summer slide, or learning loss, that affects all students during the summer months contributes to our achievement gaps,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Our summer reading program will be extremely helpful in preventing such a loss while preparing our kids for their upcoming academic year.”
Children in low-income households fall behind an average of 2 months in reading during the summer, according to a news release, which adds that summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap in reading between students from low-income households and their higher-income peers.
But reading just four to six books over the summer has the potential to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall, so even small steps are very beneficial, the release adds.
Akron City Council President Marilyn Keith said, “the program has been on the minds and wish lists of many in the city for several years.” At a recent press conference, she commended Horrigan and Council-At-Large member Jeff Fusco with supporting this initiative as part of the administration’s efforts to address equity in the areas of income, education and health.
Horrigan, Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James and Summit Education Initiative (SEI) Executive Director Derran Wimer shared their views of the program, along with its goals and objectives.
“As we look at this program holistically with SEI, all children suffer when not participating in reading activities during the summer months,” said James. “This program will help us reach a different group of students who are not traditionally reached. It will also provide more opportunities for a larger number of students to keep on track.”
“As a former school teacher, I believe we are in the right community to do something about the summer slide,” added Keith. “We are a strong community of volunteers who know that practice makes permanent. This will help Akron students succeed when returning to school in the fall.”
When reviewing why students grades kindergarten through second grade were selected as the target group of participants, Wimer pointed out, “the largest gains and the largest gaps in reading occur prior to the third grade year.”
Volunteers will be recruited and trained to help children in the community avoid any gaps in reading. Through their participation, students will stay on track and prepare for the next school year. All volunteers will submit to a background check.
Trainings are scheduled at the following Community Learning Centers (CLC):
Firestone Park (May 26), Lawton Street (June 2), Joy Park (June 2) and Patterson Park (June 7). All trainings will run from 6 to 7 p.m.
Summer reading sessions will be held weekly, in one-on-one reading sessions at Firestone Park (330/375-2806); Joy Park (330/375-2805); Kenmore (330/375-2812); Lawton Street (330/375-2825); Patterson Park (330/375-2819); and Summit Lake (330/375-2826).
Parents are encouraged to contact the center near their home to enroll their children.