Key Issues

Summer Learning

A century of research has proven that students lose ground academically when they are out of school for the summer.  The problem especially affects low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement over summer break.  This slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency and exacerbates the achievement gap between low-income students and students from more affluent households.

Programs that engage children in core academic learning, hands-on activities, arts, sports, and technology over the summer reinforce learning gains and can prevent these setbacks.

The Pinellas Public Library Cooperative has some wonderful tips, classes, and events to help children retain learning over the summer break.

School Readiness

There is a school readiness gap  between economically disadvantaged children and more affluent peers.  As early as 18 months, low-income children fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success.  Parents play a crucial role in closing this gap, as do childcare providers, pediatricians, preschool programs, and the broader community.

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten.  Even as infants, children soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images.  Vocabulary development is particularly important.  A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness.

Parent Engagement

Parents are the first and most important teachers in their children’s lives.  Research shows that students are most successful academically and socially when their parents are involved and engaged in their learning. Parents need to talk, read, and interact with their children. Visit the Tips for Parents page for information that can help make parent-child interactions effective in developing reading proficiency.

Healthy Readers

Healthy development greatly impacts children’s ability to learn.  Children who are on track in their physical, social, and emotional, cognitive, and verbal development are more successful learners from their earliest years.  At every stage of development, children from low-income families often receive less, and lower-quality, health care and services.  As a result, they experience poor health at higher rates than children from higher income families.

School Attendance

Starting in the early grades, the percentage of students missing 10 percent of the school year can reach remarkably high levels, and these early absences can rob students of the time they need to develop literacy skills.  Chronic absence can be an indicator of broader challenges for families in particular communities and neighborhoods.