Raising A Reader | United Way of Essex and West Hudson

Raising A Reader

Learning Should Never take a Vacation!


Extensive research confirms that during the summer vacation, children that do not have substantial learning opportunities and chances to practice skills they have learned in school experience summer learning loss. These students don’t just miss out on summer learning opportunities- the LOSE knowledge gained in the previous school year.

These students typically lose up to two months of math achievement,  and low-income youth fall chronically behind their peers in reading. By the time they enter middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.

Research from Johns Hopkins University finds that two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap in reading is due to unequal summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years.

In total, programs in Newark reported enrolling over 14,000 youth in summer 2010 and summer

2011. The total slots have the potential to serve 31% of Newark’s school-age (K-12) youth.

The percentage of students in high quality summer learning programs is even smaller than 31% because many students enrolled in Newark based programs aren’t from Newark.

For more information contact:

Josephine S. Russo, MSW, Program Development and Evaluation Specialist
at Jrusso@uwewh.org or (973) 854-2246.

United Way of Essex and West Hudson has worked diligently the past few years to become local summer learning experts through participation in national conferences and trainings, program evaluations with the National Summer Learning Association and local discussions with summer learning organizations.  We are now qualified to provide capacity building and support to summer learning and after school organizations within our service area.

With the intent to increase the number of high quality summer learning spots available in Newark, the United Way provides the following services:

  • Conducting full-onsite assessments using the National Summer Learning Association’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs Tool (CASP)
  • Providing capacity building to Newark based programs by increasing their knowledge in the areas of outcome measurement and quality indicators
  • Educating the community about the issue of Summer Learning Loss and the importance of high quality summer program enrollment for students
  • Facilitating an extended school time network aimed at increased funding for the city of Newark
  • Collecting data on the quality of Summer programs and numbers of students served
  • Assisting with the support and evaluation of Newark Public Schools Summer Plus


Get Involved
If you are interested in any of the services we provide, or volunteering specifically for summer learning initiatives please contact Jrusso@uwewh.org

Did You Know:

The National Summer Learning Association shares these impactful statistics that clearly show why summer matters:

  • 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).
  • 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).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).

Horizons National Summer Learning Loss Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahhj3wxxkdM

In 2013 we worked with NSLA to assess the current summer learning landscape in Newark. NSLA created the report: Investments and Opportunities in Summer Learning: A Community Assessment of Newark, New Jersey

Read the full report here.


NJ Dept of Health