Theactivities in which students are involved in during summer have amajor impact on their learning capability. This is evident from thedifficulties in integrating classroom concepts immediately aftervacation. However, this remains a controversial issue among parents,and educators. Studies indicate that while educators support summerlearning, majority of parents are against summer learning programs.
Theoretically,while school is all about work, students are involved innon-academic activities. However, studies have identified somenegative effects of summer vacation on learning capability. Despitethese controversies, this paper aims at identifying the benefit ofsummer learning program and designing a summer learning program.
Aqualitative research method will be selected in analyzing summerlearning loss among students. Small and effective sample groups of 75subjects will be selected based on given characteristics from a largegroup of teachers and parents from Hackensack middle school. Some ofthe ethical issues considered in the study included approval from theschool management and social research risks such as privacy, falsedata and professional relationships.
Multipleresearch studies indicate that summer vacations results intosignificant learning loss among student. Summer learning programs canbe used as effective tools in bridging the learning gaps.
Consequently,middle school summer learning programs are very significant. Theresults of the study can be applied in informing educations sectors’stakeholders on the importance of summer learning. One of therecommendations for achieving positive social changes is encouragingpositive teacher-student relationship. Previous studies indicate thatteachers that have positive social bonds with students nurture acooperative classroom environment that enable students and teachersto engage in a socially and academic beneficial manner. Besides,teachers that understand economic and gender orientation of studentshave a positive social changes that ensure students are interested,connected and involved in schoolwork. This will also prepare them tobe better society members as educators can personally follow-up onstudents’ affairs even during the summer vacations. On the otherhand, positive social relationships enable students to consultteachers about any issue that could be obstructing smooth learning.
Section 1: The Problem
The purpose of this researchis to investigate the impact of summer homework in reducing learningloss among students in 4th,5th, and 6th grade. Due to their developmental stage, summervacations are very essential to studentsin 4th,5th, and 6th grade. How summer homework affects these learners istherefore very significant. The study will be conducted at a middleschool located in Hackensack, New Jersey. By investigating theeffects of summer homework thepaper looks at the positive and negative effects of summer homeworkin the reduction of learning loss. It also explores the attitudes ofparents, and teachers concerning the summer homework.
Accordingto Entwisle et al. (2000), during the summer students are engaged innon-academic activities, which often diminish their learningcapacities. The authors content that for decades, scholars haveobserved that the period during summer vacation is the time whenstudents’ academic development declines significantly to the schoolyear. Likewise, most student’s academic skills decline during thesummer months. Families’ socioeconomic statuses influencesstudents’ academic skills decline substantially (Entwisle et al.,2000). However, while some studies suggests that students may havedifficulties integrating classroom concepts at the beginning of theschool term. Some educators are skeptical about summer homeworkarguing that they add no value to the learning process (Sun, 2011).Most proponents of summer vacation assert that due to students’developmental stage, summer vacations are very essential to studentsin fourth, fifth, and 6th grade. Moreover, about 66% of the academicachievement gap in language and reading among high school students isattributable to the summer vacation months (Entwisle et al., 2000).
Summerhomework has become a rule in the modern education systems all overthe world (McCombs et al., 2011).While teachers continue to assign summer homework, the big questionis research-based evidence to show that summer homework is necessaryand does it add any value to the learning process?According to McCombs et al. (2011), majority ofeducators assign summer homework to their students to aid learningcontinuity. Last, additional research on the effects of summerhomework on the learning process within specific age groups andgrades could prove beneficial.
The firstgoal of this study is to establish what impact positive or negativesummer vacation may have on student learning. Earlierresearch supported the findings that students fail to completehomework packets during summer vacations due to lack of support fromparents (Eunice, 2009).The second goal of this study is offering solutions to determineparent’s role in promoting learning for their student duringsummer. According to Graves (2010), parental attitudes towards summerhomework will influence the role of parents in promoting summerlearning. Similarly, parents have diverse views on summer homework.The issue is, therefore, a controversial topic affecting the moderneducation system (Graves, 2010).
The existence of summer homework and summer programs predates eventhe summer learning loss earliest studies. Earlier research supportedthe findings that students fail to complete homework packets duringsummer vacations due to lack of support from parents (Eunice, 2009).Since the 19th century, teachers offered summer school programs tostudents who lagged behind in class, as well as those with a poorEnglish proficiency (Furman & Bordoff, 2008). Some educators willargue that math problems and other summer homework are essential inmaintaining the learned skills during summer.
Summerlearning loss is the loss in academic knowledge and skills by schoolstudents over the summer vacation. The learning loss is as a resultof the long summer vacation whereby students tend to forget theskills and knowledge, as a result of not engaging in educationalendeavors (Reading is Fundamental ORG, n.d).
Some parentswith children in Year Round Schools (YRS) feel that their childrenhave shown a significant improvement and a consistent goodperformance in their academic work is evident (Bemis, 1999). Also,most students in a study to investigate their attitudes on YRS showedpositives attitudes for RYS and observed that summer vacation has anadverse effect on academic performance. Moreover, parents whosechildren are in the YRS believe that the calendar is more balancedthan those students who have the classic school calendar (Bemis,1999).
Previousstudies indicate that while some teachers and parents support summerhomework, others are against the program. It is because most studentsdo not study during summer vacation and only embarks on theassignment in less than a week or two to the end of the summervacation (Holzman, 1971). Therefore, most parents support the YRSprogram arguing that it would reduce the loss of summer vacation onthe students’ academic performance. Equally, it takes into accountthat students need time to play and rest, as well (Holzman, 1971).However, Iceland (2003) reacts by asserting that students may stillhave their summer vacation but schools should establish a systemwhereby students finish their summer vacation homework on a computeronline. Under the system, Iceland asserts that parents believe thatstudents will get immediate grading. It is opposed to where they haveto wait until summer is over, and work on the assignment on the lastweek of resuming school.
Evidence of the Problem at the Local Level
Asper New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK)`s date,students’ performance within middle school reduced as compared tothe performance at the end of academic year 2009-2010. With that inmind, instructional group score for Language Arts Literacy 4th gradeand above 2011 was 70.0% general education (United States &United States 2011). Further scores in the same subject area in 2012were 66.0% for public education. Moreover, grade four Mathematics andabove by instructional group score for 2011 was 79.3% generaleducation. In 2012, the scores for mathematics general educationstudents were 77.4% (United States & United States, 2011).Allington et al. (2010) found that as students return to school, somehave forgotten basic concepts in Reading and Mathematics learned inthe previous school year 2011.
In1906, research by National Summer Learning Association revealed thatthere existed an achievement gap between learners. To gain a moreobjective perspective, the research was conducted on the issue ofsummer learning and the effect the learning progress of the learners.The results showed that students’ achievement gap is widened bysummer learning loss (Think Stretch, n.d). Students, teachers andparents at the local level have attempted to solve the problemthrough summer learning programs, but have not been effective (Meece& Eccles, 2010).
Differentresearchers have studied the impacts of the long summer vacation onthe academic performance among the schoolchildren. Klein (2014)suggested that the summer vacation frustrates the learning process bybreaking the rhythm of instruction. Due to loss of academic skills,this generates a situation in which teachers must spend aconsiderable deal of time on a considerable deal of time on me thelearning loss that occurred over the summer in order to progress toacquiring new knowledge in a new grade level (Klein, 2014).
Evidence of the Problem from the Professional Literature
School years are often considered periods ofoppression while summer times are associated with liberty (Drehle,2010). School is all about work while summer is all about play andfun (Smink,2011). However, Drehle (2010)acknowledges that summer vacation brings a problem. According toKlein (2013), students from wealthy families lose a month of growthin mathematics every summer while students from low-income familiesare likely to slip in reading comprehension compared to students frommiddle-income family. Duringsummer, students are engaged in non-academic activities, which oftendiminish their learning capacities especially in math and reading(Smink, 2011).
Recent studies have quantified summer loss ofstudent test scores at about one month (Zvoch& Stevens, 2011). Math and spelling have indicated the highesteffects as compared to other subjects, with an exemption of studentsfrom low socio-economic status show a decline in reading (Allington,2010). In addition, Allington that the negative effects of summervacation are more significant for children with exceptional needs(especially children not fluent in the English language. A survey of500 teachers concluded that, 66% of teachers spent 3 to 4 weeksre-teaching the course materials at the start of the year, while 24%teachers of spent 5 to 6 weeks re teaching materials from the pastschool year (Klein, 2013).
Sun (2011),also noted that the majority of learners had more difficulty inintegrating classroom concepts in the early days after their returnfrom vacation, and that this condition improved gradually with time.His studies suggested that 75% of students had difficulty inintegrating science concepts during this time and that they performedextremely well in non-science disciplines (Sun, 2011).
Summer learning loss: it is the tendency of student to forget theacademic concepts they learned in the previous school year, duringthe summer break (Mccombs et al, 2011).
Learning gap: it is the decline in academic achievement, which occurswhen students fail to learn and apply the concepts in the expectedlevel of proficiency (Sun, 2011).
Library summer reading programs: refers to reading programs organizedfor student during the summer break to maintain the flow ofinstructions in spite of the break from school. The programs utilizedifferent techniques (such as reading games, discussion of books,author visits, storytelling, and book related crafts) to protectstudent from summer slide (Gbore, 2013).
Remedial program: refers to the advanced courses designed to assistunderprepared students to bring them to the expected level ofcompetency. Teachers are forced to conduct remedial courses in thefall to remind students the concepts learned in the previous schoolyear (Sun, 2011).
Standardized test: It is a uniform test issued to students at everygrade to assess their proficiency in different areas of study. Thetest provides fair, reliable, and valid assessment to allparticipants. In addition, the test is conducted free of bias andunmerited advantages by providing uniform condition for all partakers(Cherie & Stacey, 2012).
Summer homework: refers to assignments given to students to do duringthe summer break with the intention of reducing summer loss (Mccombset al, 2011).
Summer learning programs: These are educational programs that areprepared by educators to maintain the learning rhythm among thestudents during the summer vacation. The programs are prepared tosuit students at different grade levels (Sun, 2011).
The impact of a long summervacation on the learning process among elementary and middle schoolstudents is a controversial issue among the stakeholder educationsector. It is because the school calendar in the United Statesprovides an extended summer break, which reduces the number of daysstudents spend in school to around 180 days per academic year. It isrelatively lower than other industrialized countries like Japan wherestudents spend approximately 240 days in school per academic year.
This research would assist the schools to comeup better policies and change the schedule to suit the educationalneeds of the contemporary student. If the state adopts the suggestionby Iceland (2003) that students may do their work using the onlinesystem, even when they are in their summer vacation. The classicschool calendar would achieve more academic excellence that the YRScalendar. The program would ensure that it reminds students of theiracademics from time to time so they may remember what they learned.
Someteachers and parents have expressed support for summer problem inmathematics and languages. This is based on the assumption thatsummer learning activities reduce summer learning loss. However,studies that show the extent of learning loss as a result of longsummer vacation are limited. Students are exposed to differentlearning environments and have varying experiences during summervacation. The impact of prolonged vacations with or without summerhomework learning activities can have a varying effecton the learning capability of a student. Thisstudy focuses on a particular local setting. While there are somegeneralized researches, the findings of the study will be specific tothe 4th, 5th, and 6th grade student at a middle school in Hackensack,New Jersey. The conclusions from the study can be used in theformulation of learning strategies in the specific group of learners.
The larger body of research available at the moment confirms thatthe long summer vacation results in learning loss among the studentsespecially those in middle school. The significance of summerhomework in the learning process can be investigated using a specificresearch subject. The study will investigate whether summer homeworkreduces learning loss among 4th,5th, and 6th grade. In conducting this research, thefollowing questions will serve as a guide:
What are the positive impacts of summer homework in reducing learning loss?
What are the negative impacts of summer homework on the learning process?
What are the views of parents and teachers about on summer homework?
Summerhomework reduces learning loss as it guides students on effectiveacademic approach (Drehle, 2010). Theteacher outlines critical areas that students should cover during thebreak. On the other hand, parents facilitates providing their studentwith the resources they need to accomplish the homework such as booksand access to a library. The financially capable parents do alsofacilitate tuition for the student (Cherie & Stacey, 2012). Thecontinued academic program during the vacation reduces the effect ofsummer learning process, which may lead to loss of over ten weeks’worth of academic time (McLaughlin & Pitcock, 2009).
However,some conservative parents advocate that students should not takehomework at home (Online Colleges Organization, 2014). Some claimthat the summer vacation is suitable time for the student to engagein co-curricular activities, spend quality time with parents, andshake off the academic fatigue (Cooper, 2003). In addition, otherparents discourage summer homework because accessing books,libraries, or tuition assistance can be challenging in the ruralregions (Online Colleges Organization, 2014). Fortunately, thewidespread availability of internet is gradually changing theattitude of such parents because their student can access affordableonline tuition and public libraries (Allington et al., 2010).
Accordingto a large body of present studies on the attitude of teachers andparents concerning summer homework, they indicate that both partiesadvocate students to take homework home. The task compels them tostudy during the vacations thereby, minimizing the extent ofacademic deterioration (McLaughlin & Pitcock, 2009).
Thecurrent research is needed to help design a suitable pilot programthat will be agreeable to the three parties. The program shouldreduce the summer learning loss while taking into account the needfor student to rest and play. The pilot program will allow studentsto finish their summer homework using a computer program or an onlinesystem. This will facilitate immediate grading as opposed to havingpupils wait until the first day of the new school year to turn infinalizing assignments. The pilot program will create summertimeassignments that will not only be useful to students, but that arealso deemed to be worthy to both students, parents, and teachersbecause they can be more efficiently completed using computers andthe internet as opposed to standard paper-based assignment. This willalso reduce the remedial time required for teachers to remindstudents the concepts learned in the last academic year 2010.
Review of the Literature
Education systems and reforms such as “the No Child is Leftbehind” in the United States have been introduced in severalcountries to increase the effectiveness of the learning process. Theaim of any education system is to ensure that the learners are ableto reach their maximum learning potential. The systems have devisedways and means through which the educators can improve the learningachievement among students (Arnold, 2013). One of the factors thathave been identified as a major cause of concern in the learningprocess has been the summer vacation learning loss. Multiple studieshave shown that summer vacation results in differential rates oflearning loss (Arum & Velez, 2012). Researchers distinguishlearning programs as the potentially effective measures to reducesummer learning loss. However, only few studies identified theimpacts of summer packets and summer programs in reducing the loss ofacademic skills during summer break.
In the modern families, the need for both the father and the motherto have an income has become essential (Bourman& Boulay, 2012). Both parents spend most of the time awayfrom home (Arum & Velez, 2012). The unavailability of parentsduring summer vacations has changed the dynamics of the moderneducation system (Borman et al, 2009). While some parents are opposedto summer programs, they support the idea of summer homework to keepthe young and energetic children busy. Although there are limiteddatabases on summer vocational activities, both academic andnonacademic, in different parts of the world, it is an emerging trendin the modern education system. Nonetheless, the main aim of academicsummer activities is to link the learning process and avoid summerlearning loss. However, according to Keithm and Joseph (2013), thesummer programs have divergent effects on the academic andnon-academic life.
According to Biancarosa et al. (2010), growth during academic years,from fall to spring, is greatly steeper compared to growth duringsummertime or the period from spring to fall. Further, percentage ofsummer learning varied from one grade level to another (Bourman& Boulay, 2012 and Biancarosa, Bryk, & Dexter, 2010). Summerlearning loss has evolved into an important issue in the modernlearning environment. During the summer vacation students rarelyengage themselves in academic tasks and this makes them forgetconcepts and ideas they learned in the previous academic year(Mccombs, 2011). This necessitates theuse of the first few weeks of the fall in remedial programs toacquaint the students with the school environment and remind themabout the concepts learned in the previous year before introducingnew concepts (Crowe et al., 2012). However, there are several otherlearning strategies that have been employed to reduce the extent ofsummer learning loss.
The learning loss experienced during summer vacation accumulates tosignificant learning gap. Cumulatively, the summer learning loss hasa huge impact on the education achievement, especially amongdisadvantaged learners. Allington andMcgill-Franzen et al. (2010) suggested that summer programs,especially the summer reading clubs are effective tools for reducingthe learning gap among student irrespective of their age,socioeconomic, and gender differences. Researchers identified thatthese programs either improves or retains the reading levels duringthe summer break. However, the effectiveness of summer learningprograms depends on components of the program, attitude of thestudents, and support from the parent and instructors (Mccombs,2011). Apart from improving academic achievement, summer programshave other benefits, which include improvement of behavioral andsocio-emotional outcomes, persistent to school, and improved schoolyear attendance. Based on these research based findings, someeducationists have argued in favor of summer education programs(McCombs, 2011).
One of the things that have been introduced in order to diminish theexistence of summer learning loss is the regularity in the attendancein high-quality afterschool as well as summer programs. After schoolprograms have been recognized to have beneficial impacts on thestudent’s learning retention (Zvoch &Stevens, 2011). In a research conducted by Mclaughlin and Pitcock(2009), student who are engaged in afterschool programs are given abroad range of enrichment opportunities. Further, they are taught howto build healthy relationship with their peers. Student are alsoprovided with opportunities for mastery as well as skill-building(Mclaughlin & Pitcock, 2009). If a skill is not put topractice, the probability of losing it is quite high.
Cooper et al. (2010), conducted a research to determine if indeedsummer learning had any effect on the learners. The research showedthat learners lose their educational balance during this time. Thisproblem is especially high in learners who come from low incomeearning families. The importance of giving summer homework is toensure that students continue to get the required instructions withinthe education sector (Cooper et al., 2010). As Bradley and Waltz(2010) stated, summer homework has helped reduce learning losssignificantly. Since 1981, learning losses as a result of summervacation were reduced by about 51 percent (Bradley & Waltz,2010).
Annually, students in the United States attend school forapproximately 180 days. Studies indicate that during this period aremarkable progress along the course of learning and growth in termsof skills and knowledge is achieved (Smith, 2012). To maintain thistrend research on education matters suggest that stakeholder whoinclude teachers, funders, parents and governments at all levelsneed to come together in an attempt to cut short the learning lossthat occurs during summer (Zvoch & Stevens,2011). This is achievable by involving more young learners insummer learning activities (Mclaughlin & Pitcock, 2009). A goodsummer learning program would be the one that blends a myriad of manylearning activities such as art, hands on activities anddevelopmental relationships. An even better way is to increase theamount of homework given to learners during summer.
McCombs et al. (2011) study reported proof that summer programs arebeneficial in preventing summer learning loss. The authorsrecommended summer learning programs to be taken seriously since theyare effective in reducing the achievement gap. Summer programs aremade up of small classes in which students are encouraged to attendregularly (McCombs et al, 2011). Summer programs offer individualizedinstruction and provide a combination of enrichment and academicactivities (McCombs et al., 2011). Researchers likewise suggest thateven though current study is accessible on how various summerprograms can impact academic performance, there has been noactivities and developmental relationships. An even better way is toincrease the amount of homework given to learners during summer.
For example, some studies have indicated varying rates of theacademic achievements at the end of summer due to summer homework(Dantis & Slattery, 2011). The argument here was that summerhomework contributed positively in basic mathematics and sciencesubjects. Nevertheless, the impact of summer homework varies acrossfactors including academic levels and socioeconomic status(Cox-Petersen, 2011). Instead, additional studies agree that summerhomework has a positive impact on learning loss reduction. In a studyconducted by Smith (2012), there is a consistent link between summerhomework and improved academic achievements during fall, regardlessof the family income or English proficiency. This study not onlyreflected reduction in learning loss, but it also heightened thestudent’s academic skills and knowledge as they prepare for a newacademic year.
Studies have shown that students lose the skills they do not practiceduring the summer vacations (Zvoch &Stevens, 2011). Some key players in the education sector feelthat summer homework assignments are effective interventions to curbthe slide (Fiester, 2010). According to Fiester (2010) the essence ofassigning reading to students during the summer break is to ensurecontinuous delivery of instructions. His study also found summerhomework assignments ensure progressive learning between spring andfall, thus reducing the chances for students to forget reading andcomputation skills learned in the previous year. According to Cooperet al. (2010), across the board, all learners have been observed tolose some math skills during summer vacation. Although a significantnumber of learners may not lose their reading skills, some students,especially the poor lose some spelling and reading skills achieved inthe previous learning period (Dantis & Slattery, 2011). Thepatterns of summer learning loss have also been used to explain someof the learning achievement gaps when learners from differenteconomic backgrounds are compared (Weiss et al., 2009).
Thethree year study conducted by Carran and Flore (2010) explored theimpacts that summer learning programs in public libraries had on thelearner’s achievement. The study involved students from small andlarge communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas during thesummer. The focus of the study was on low-income families (Carran &Flore, 2010). Researchers suggested that students involved in thesummer reading programs demonstrated greater reading achievementcompared to students who did not take active involvement (Carran &Flore, 2010).
This has resulted from the belief that summer packets can reducelearning loss that occurs during the vacation (Smith, 2012). In spiteof this, very few studies have established a positive correlationbetween summer homework and test scores. This has raised the ongoingdebate among the key concerned parties as to whether summer homeworkhas any academic value on students. Every year, students in theUnited States attend school for approximately 180 days. Studiesindicate that during this period a remarkable progress along thecourse of learning and growth in terms of skills and knowledge isachieved (Smith, 2012). Other studies prior to this have givencontradicting results on the impact of summer homework in reducinglearning loss. For example, some studies have indicated varying ratesof the academic achievements at the end of summer due to summerhomework (Dantis & Slattery, 2011)
The main controversy about the effect of summer homework assignmentsis its contribution in improving academic achievement. Differentresearchers suggested varying rates (between 8-31 %) of academicimprovements during the fall as a result of summer homework (Voorhis,2011). The researcher identified that summer homework assignmentsresulted in significant improvements, in elementary math and othermiddle school science subjects. Still, the impact of summer homeworkassignments varies with several factors such as socioeconomic andacademic level (Bradley & Waltz, 2010). However, a research byLoertscher and Marcoux (2012)contradicted these findings by indicating a consistent associationbetween summer reading assignments and improvement in readingproficiency regardless of the social background. The studyestablished a positive link between the volumes of assigned summerreadings and improvement in elementary grades. This implies that agreater involvement in academic tasks during the summer break notonly reduces the summer slide, but it also increases academic skillsin preparation for the upcoming school year (Loertscher& Marcoux, 2012).
Reading is one of the many activities that are strongly encouragedduring summer (Loertscher & Marcoux,2012).According to Allington et al.(2010), researchers have reported the impact of summer readingsetback. More than two decades ago, Hayes and Grether conducted astudy to 600 New York City elementary schools in which they comparedthe cumulative reading development of students in high, as well aslow-poverty schools over time (Allington et al., 2009). Theiranalyses of the achievement gains generated at the end of theacademic year showed improvement among the students.
21stCentury Community Learning Centers
The 21st CCLC Grant Program`s emphasis is tooffer extended academic enrichment opportunities for studentattending low-performing schools.  Discussion group services andacademic enrichment activities are created to help students meetlocal and state educational standards in topics such as reading andmath. In addition, 21st CCLC programs provide youth developmentactivities, technology education programs, art, music and recreationprograms, counseling and character education to improve the academiccomponent of the program.  According to Beckett (2010) conductedan evaluation of the 21stCentury Community Learning Centers and found that one of itscharacteristics is that it is more of an after-school funding streamrather than a specific after-school program model. Further, Beckett(2010) discovered the negative effects that go along with the21stCentury CommunityLearning Centers (CCLC) program during thesecond year. A greater number of participants were suspended anddisciplined. The most common intervention summer learning lossencompasses conventional summer school programs, which focusimmensely on the remediation of reading difficulties as well as, thereinforcement of skills in reading comprehension by way of a highlyprescriptive curricula and incorporation of book skills and tests(Kim & White, 2011). Their study also found remedial summerprograms generate short-term achievement benefits that tend todiminish over time, and the benefits are larger for the middle classindividuals than the low-income earners (Kim & White, 2011).However, the programs are not without some challenges. For example,according to Grossman et al. (2009), the quality of summer learningprograms is adversely affected the learners to educators’ ratios.When the number of learners is relatively high compared to the numberof facilitators, the effectiveness of the programs diminishessignificantly.
Inthe past years, focus on summer learning programs for thedisadvantaged student has grown immensely (Stephanie & Monique,2014). The majority of this heightened attention may involveimpulsion of the No Child Left Behind legislation and by researcheson summer learning loss which discover that low-income youth loseground more in reading skills over the summer than their higherincome peers (Kim & Guryan, 2010). Some researchers oppose thesummer homework on grounds.
Researchhas noted that parental involvement tends to decline at all levels ofeducation (Epstein et al. 2002). The research has put forth severalconclusions as to why this might be the case. First, lack ofcurriculum knowhow among students’parents in higher grades. Second, some young learners prefer lessinvolvement of their parents in their education. Third, some parentschoose to pursuetheir career goals after their childrenbecomeindependent. The research also noted that teachersalso lackknowledge on how to effectively engage the parents in the educationalmatters of their student. The same research also noted that theeconomic strength of the family is also a critical factor when itcomes to parent’s involvement in their student’s education. Theresearch noted that well-to-do parents are actively involved with theeducation of their student at all levels and the vice versa foreconomically strained parents. According to Stephanieand Monique (2014), parental involvement and the knowledge levelamong parents is a significant factor in determining the extent ofsummer learning loss among young learners.
Astudy of Teacher Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) programindicated 65% involvement of family members in homework assignmentsfor TIPS year 1 and 88 % involvement of family members in homeworkassignments for TIPS year 2 (Voorhis, 2011).
Nonetheless,Voorhis (2011) opposed this suggestion through a study whichindicated that variations in students and parents` attitudes towardhomework and its effects on the student’s achievements relate tofactors other than time. This means that summer packets should bedesigned in a manner that takes care of academic and non-academicinterests of student.
Accordingto Bennett & Kalish (2006) both parents and most teachers have noproven facts about the effects of homework assignments on students’performance. Most of these parents view homework assignments as asource of tension and stress. Their study also revealed parents arguethat the homework robs student of their sleep and exercise time,which are necessary for physical, neurological, and emotionaldevelopment. Nonetheless, Voorhis (2011) opposed this suggestionthrough a study, which indicated that variations in students andparents` attitudes toward homework and its effects on the student’sachievements relate to factors other than time. Summer packets shouldbe designed in a manner that takes care of academic and non-academicinterests of student.
Ina study by Celano and Neuman (2009), it was found that student fromlow and middle income families make use of computers and librarybooks differently. Even though the researchers found that both groupsof student utilized public libraries almost all the time, studentbelonging to well-off families were exposed to more books and made ofmore educational computer applications as well as obtainedutilization of informal resources which may result to a broadening ofknowledge gap between low and middle income families. Students fromlow income families’ experience an average loss in readingperformancesduring summervacation. Individual students lose about 2.6 months score levelequivalency in mathematics (Ready, 2010).
According to Allington and McGill-Franzen (2010) the learning lossamong students over summer yields a performance gap in readingachievement amid the higher and lower income students. Further, heasserts that while student performance for students regardless oftheir socio-economic status improve at the same rate over the schoolcalendar, the students from low-income families experience increasinglearning losses in basic school grades.
Several publications have been reviewed with regards to summerhomework and summer learning loss (Roman & Fiore, 2010). Therecent report includes text review on summer learning programs andlearning loss, as well as the learning programs provided by privateinstitutions in the United States. This study reveals that studentswho continue learning over summer gain more knowledge and skill overthose who idle during summer, who lose the same amount of knowledgeand skills. Scholars have suggested three approaches for reducinglearning loss since summer homework receives controversialperceptions (McCombs et al., 2011). They include extended school yearand a modified school calendar to shorten the long vacation. Inconclusion, while summer learning programs are movements in the rightdirection to reducing learning loss, they cannot entirely bridge theachievement gap (Ozier, 2010). A complete bridge necessitates asystematic approach that can be sustained over time to connectfamilies, communities, school districts, as well as legislatorsconcerned with the academic, economic needs and socio-emotional needsof families and children to bridge the achievement gap that has beenrooted in the education sector for decades (McCombs et al., 2013).
In conclusion, while summer learning programs are movements in theright direction to reducing learning loss, they cannot entirelybridge the achievement gap (Ozier, 2010). A complete bridgenecessitates a systematic approach that can be sustained over time toconnect families, communities, school districts, as well aslegislators concerned with the academic, economic needs andsocio-emotional needs of families and student to bridge theachievement gap that has been rooted in the education sector fordecades (McCombs et al., 2013).
It is apparent that the differing opinions and perspectives betweenparents, educationists, as well as teachers concerning theutilization of summer vacation for academic purposes remainsunresolved. Everyone wants the same thing. The teachers want to seetheir impact on the learners lives while parents want their childrento gain knowledge the government wants to see the education system ofthe country churning all rounded scholars for economic growth. As aresult, there is need to create a working solution. This is criticalespecially in the area of summer schooling: ensuring that learning isintensive during this period will help reduce the loss of knowledgeorchestrated by the break.
Depending on available data, the research should seek to establishthe most effective common grounds between the opposing sides toensure that students’ interests, as well as the rest of theparties, are addressed. This approach would seek to establishcomprehensive summer programs, which encompass educative activitiesthat are laden with fun for student such as scientific exploration,role-playing, and mathematical concept building. This will help thestudents develop their logic and social skills.
Such programs should also be tailored to encompass parents to ensurethat the parents enjoy ample time with their kids, as well asmaintain education interests during summer vacation. The strugglesbetween parents and teacher over learning loss and summer vacationwill continue to be controversial regarding academic performance ofstudents
The literature reviewed in the current research shows that theargument raised by the stakeholders against the summer homeworkassignment results from failure to link assignments and academicperformance. Triangulation approach is the best entry point to thislocal problem as the approach will leave all parties satisfied andprotect the academic future of students. The findings of the currentresearch identify the benefits of summer assignments to parents,students, and teachers. This will create a platform for dialogue andmay consequently result in the formulation of suitable summer packetsthat are agreeable to all the stakeholders. The packets will balancebetween educational achievements and physical development of student.This will help in changing the attitude of elementary and middleschool student towards summer assignments, thus reducing summerslide. In addition, the packets will reduce excessive involvement ofparents hence, parents will encourage their student to undertake theassignments from an informed point of view.
Summer learning loss is a controversial issue, which concerns threeparties namely educators, students, and parents. Educators argue thatstudents lose most the concepts learned in the previous school yearduring the summer break. Parents, on the other hand, argue thatsummer learning programs (including the library reading programs andsummer assignment) deny their student rest and play time. Therefore,reduces students physical, neurological, and emotional developmentdue to the lack of rest and play time. The opposing sides fail toidentify the benefits of issuing assignments to students with theintention of reducing summer loss. In addition, there are fewresearchers who have focused their studies on the effects of summerassignments and summer learning programs in reduction of summer loss.The primary goal of the current study is to identify these benefitsand create a platform for designing of practice summer packets. Animplication for positive social change would include changes thatwill keep students interested, connected, and involved in schoolthereby strengthening individual student development and preparingthem to be productive member of society. Hence, to make full use ofthe youths’ developments, a middle school summer learning programis essential. This does not only hone their cognitive skills but alsotheir social skills.
Section two outlines the methodologyfollowed to assess the impact of summer assignments in reduction ofsummer slide concerning middle school student. The summer packetswill balance between educational achievements as well as social andphysical development.
Section 2: The Methodology
This chapter focuses on describing the qualitative study model andresearch design for the impact of summer learning loss. Many Americanteachers and parents oppose eliminating the long summer vacations(Online Colleges Organization, 2014). They argue that the vacationsprovide student with carefree opportunities to spend time with familymembers, summer camps, parks, and museums (Summer LearningOrganization, 2009). The school calendars containing long summerbreaks were common in rural regions where parents required studentsto help with various farm activities during the holidays such asfarming, harvesting, and planting. On the contrary, urban schools hadacademic years range between eleven and twelve years. Nevertheless,America still upholds the traditional nine-month learning calendaralthough the number of people depending on agriculture cycle hasdecreased from 85% to 3% (Cooper, 2003). In addition, improvedair-conditioning technology implies that schools can remain open anytime during the year.
Research Design and Approach
The research topic regarding summer learning loss is valuable as ithas a big influence on the learning process. The topic concerns lossof academic skills during the extended summer vacation. Variousmeasures that educators have adopted to curb the problem have yieldedinsignificant fruits, if not none. Students have continued toindicate reduced educational skills and knowledge after resumingschool from summer vacations. This problem necessitates a research todevise a solution or method to reduce summer learning loss. Thesolutions offered are a subject of discussion concerning theirefficiency. For more than a century, American school programs arecharacterized by long vain the Agrarian revolution since parentsrequired the extra support of their children in the farms. In fact,both teachers and parents oppose changing the academic year in a waythat students would not be breaking for very long vacations. However,this research will use program evaluation approach to identify thepositive effects of summer homework in reducing learning loss, viewsof parents and teachers on summer homework, and the views of parentsand teachers about summer homework.
The program evaluation population shall comprise of teachers andparents at Hackensack middle school. The school is located indistrict 37 in the state of NJ. Only one parent or guardian for eachstudent would be considered instead of considering both parents,which is redundant. The number of parents is expected to be slightlyhigher than the teachers. Only a few teachers shall be sampled withthe basic requirement being that they teach in fourth, fifth, andsixth grades and have teaching experience exceeding two years. Theethnic composition of the population is a diverse culture thatincludes Caucasian white, Asian with a majority of them beingHispanics, and African Americans. By sex, there is a healthy balancebetween males and females although there is a likely to be a biastowards female middle school teachers. Studies have revealed thatteaching in elementary and secondary schools is a largely feminizedjob (Terzian & Moore, 2009).
Thesampling method purposeful sampling
Purposeful sampling refers to the selection of the sample form apopulation based on given characteristics. This differs from simplerandom sampling where participants irrespective of any definingcharacteristics such as age, location or other key traits that caninfluence the type of data to be collected are randomly selected.There are various ways of conducting purposeful sampling depending onthe data collection method. Convenience sampling, which identifiesparticipants, based on their simple availability upon meeting thebasic criteria for the study, maximum variation sampling to cover theextreme cases of the sample, criterion sampling, or stratifiedpurposeful sampling that seeks out participants who meet a certaincriteria (Terzian and Moore, 2009). This study will rely onstratified purposeful sampling as it will be best-placed to enablethe research identify a relevant sample needed to achieve the setaims of the study.
A number of factors determine the sample size in any research. Theyinclude the type data to be collected, data collection methods, thevalidity/credibility or precision required, population size, samplingmethod, scope of research and sampling technique used. In thisprogram evaluation, I am planning to use a qualitative method whereparticipants will fill questionnaires describing the benefits ofsummer vacation homework to the students. The Hackensack middleschool teachers are active in giving students homework during thevacation. However, a good percentage of the students rarely completethe work.
I will evaluate a category of parents that has disagree withteachers from giving summer assignments to their student. Theinvestigation will focus on the reasons that motivated the parents todeclare that their student should not take assignments during thesummer vacation. Respectively, I will seek to understand the logicthe negative effects caused by the vacation homework. I will beinterested in the performance of students on the closing termassessment test and the continuous assessment test at the end ofsummer holiday (Borman & Dowling, 2006).
Benefitsof qualitative program evaluation
The qualitative program evaluation technique is best suited forlarge samples where a few variables are assessed. On the other hand,qualitative approach calls for a smaller sample that is studied moreclosely with a relatively larger number of variables being assessed(Borman & Dowling, 2006). With a sample of 50 parents and 25teachers, there are expected to be 75 surveys to be analyzed based onthe responses to the questions set targeting specific variables. Theeligibility of shortlisted is that the parents must have studentenrolled in the middle school. Teachers must be teaching at least onesubject in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at least for the last oneyear. All stakeholders must be sane and have signed a consent form(Maxwell, 2012).
Thecharacteristic of the selected sample
All participants must be affiliated to the school as either currentparents or teachers. All participants must show their associationwith the school and be in the official records of the school. Thestudent`s guardians should be active in the lives of their studentespecially education-wise.
Since the social research involves human beings, the schooladministration, participants, and the institutional administrationboard must approve it. For studies involving humans, the IRB requiresthat individuals are protected from physical and psychological harm.As such, participants must provide informed consent to researchersbefore commencement of the research (Miller, 2012).
There are three main risks involved in social research. First is harmas a result of their involvement. Second is damage of professionalrelationships. Third is the privacy and falsification of data. Toprevent emotional and psychological harm, participants will beinformed about the purposes of the research and use of the findings.On avoiding societal risks, the researcher place the research in therelevance of the society by assuring that the research and itsfindings will not be used to harm the society. Furthermore,assurances must be provided to participants that their privacy willbe protected and that data provided cannot be used for other purposesor disclosed to other parties without their consent (Miller, 2012).
The main data collection method I will apply in the study is acustomized survey. The survey appears like a questionnaire with guidequestions regarding the way respondents should answer questions.
Howthese past/current roles and relationships are likely to affect datacollection, and the researcher’s experiences or biases that arerelated to the topic
I am a teacher who works in another school district. I do not knowthe parents that I will be surveying, the results will be less biasedsince I am less likely to introduce my own information. Since I havealready prepared guide research, I will ensure that parents andteachers will give information restricted to answering the requestedinformation. To familiarize myself with the parents and teachers thatwill answer the survey, I will hold a brief meeting introducingmyself. I will also assure them the data they will provide will beused for the purpose of the study only. Besides, I will also givethem guidance on the correct procedures for answering the questions.
Generating,gathering, and recording the survey data
I will collect data using online surveys that will post to eachparent participating in the research. The objective of collecting theinformation is comparing the benefits and drawbacks of homework tostudents’ performance during the long summer vacation on academicperformance. The survey will also determine the attitude of parentstowards the vacation homework, as well as potential reasons that maycontribute to development of the mind-set (McLaughlin and Pitcock,2009).
Numberof tests and duration of each
Since the survey contains only three questions each parent will havethirty minutes to answer the questions. I am deliberately allocatingshort time for the questions because I want the parents to focus ongiving genuine answers without having to invent stories that wouldfit the opportunity.
This study aims to evaluate whether homework does influence summerlearning loss. I have selected the Hackensack middle school indistrict 37, in the state of NJ, as my study subject. The parentscome from diverse backgrounds, including social economic status andethnicities. The education level, financial stability, and the placeof residence are some of the other factors I will use in determiningthe attitude of parents towards the summer homework. Previous studiesindicate that parents that live in urban areas encourage teachers togive their children homework that will guide them to study on theirown (Cooper, 2003). However, parents in the rural region do notsupport summer homework because libraries are hard to come by in thesuburban regions (Online Colleges Organization, 2014). Theinformation I will gather will come handy in determining theauthenticity of the conclusion of the past studies.
Evidenceof quality and procedures to assure the best possible accuracy andcredibility of the findings
I preferred to use this school as the study subject because it hasbeen in operation for more than a decade. In addition, the entireperformance records for the students, both prior and after the summervacation, are available for the entire period the institution hasbeen in operation. Second, the institution is located in myresidential area, so I will be at a strategic position to maintainone-on-one contact with the institution’s management throughout thesurvey. Third, the school has a very diverse population. It has overfour ethnic groups from different social economic background. Thevariation of the study subjects is precisely the group we need inorder to minimize errors that may arise because of different thebackground of individuals (Terzian & Moore, 2009).
After compiling data from various sources, I will start analyzing itwithin 24 hours after receiving all the surveys. I will begin byreviewing the present findings as per the results I would get. I willthen compare the current results with previous studies on the sameissue to
Determineinformation consistency. Comparing my research results with paststudies’ outcomes is essential for evaluating information validity.For example, if previous researchers found that giving homework tostudents could assist in reducing summer learning loss, the outcomeof my present study should give similar results if the results areconsistent. The benefit of comparing my results with previousresearchers’ outcome is establishing validity of information, aswell as potential information gap that may have caused inaccuratefindings in either studies.
Thecoding procedure for reducing information into categories and themes
The analysis will also observe the links between genders of parentsand their attitude towards addressing summer vacation learning loss.Previous research outcome have hypothesized that single mothers aremore likely to embrace vacation homework as a solution to reducesummer learning loss than single fathers are (Cooper, 2003).Fortunately, both genders are evenly distributed in the participatingrespondents hence, it will be easy to discover whether gender doesaffect summer learning loss reaction from parents (Allington et al.,2010).
The parent-student relationship could also influence summer learningloss in addition to the extended vacation. I will review therelationship between parents and teachers and then compare the rateof performance deviation between students that have good relationshipwith the parents, and the ones that may not have good relationshipwith their guardians. The quality of parents-child relationshipinfluences self-confidence of learners, which is paramount to achievenotable results. Since the survey is a qualitative research, it willbe seeking to understand underlying issues that may affect academicperformance. In the Attachment Theory According to John Bowlby andMary Ainsworth book, Krumwiede (2014) affirms that secureparental attachment enhances self-confidence, memories, beliefs, andthoughts. All these qualities are essential to excel in education.
I will also determine the consequence of the social, economicdifference among parents. This implies that I will compare whetherstudent from higher social economic status (SES) are more or lessaffected by summer learning loss. I will provide closed-endedquestions to parents in order to gather relevant information. Forexample, the SES may influence summer learning loss in that affluentparents can afford private tuition for their student while studentfrom the poor background will have to stay away from academicenhancing environment throughout the vacation (Allington et al.,2010).
According to the American Psychological Association, PresidentialTask Force on Educational Disparities (2012),some races such as Latino, South East Asians, African American, andAmerican India often underperform academically. The evaluation willhelp to confirm whether the racial and ethnic persons have differentacademic difference. Moreover, it will help in identifying the effectof racial difference on parents’ attitude on summer learning loss.
Jafre et al. (2011), claims that teachers may influence academicretention through emphasizing on students focusing on summerhomework. This is because a teacher can guide a student on thesubjects to cover after opening school. The outcome of individualsurveys would then help in determining whether teachers do assist insummer learning loss through giving homework and study approach tostudents breaking for long vacations.
For easy comparison, I will use the Computer Assisted QualitativeData Analysis Software to classify the case study information in aneasy to retrieve way. The coding software supports features such asrevising, coding, and editing, peer review, recursive examination,and work sharing (McLaughlin and Pitcock, 2009). Coding convertsqualitative data into empirical themes and categories thereby makingthe results statistically valid. An analyst can easily determinecontrast ratios and real value range.
After gathering data from the study, we will store it in electronicform. Besides, we shall use cloud back up protected with the SecureSockets Layer (SSL) technology to prevent unwarranted parties fromaccessing it. Our local public library has an automated archive whereclients seeking to store information safely and on long-term basisfor just an affordable onetime fee can purchase space. Theinformation and identity of students interviewed during the researchis supposed to remain confidential for the next thirty years. Oncethat time has lapsed, I can publish the identity and other personalinformation of the respondents in public if I wish. However, we aregoing to use code names to conceal the real identity of theinterviewees. For example, we will name each respondent as subjectone, two or three when publishing the information in public domains.
In conclusion, data analysis should involve comparing the presentdata outcome with past results concerning. The significance ofcomparing the present and past studies to determine consistency andvalidity of the new findings. The objective of evaluating theacquired data is evaluating whether it is true that single mothersare more likely to embrace vacation homework as a solution to reducesummer learning loss than single fathers do. The entire informationI will use in the research is collected using both qualitative andquantitative methods to enhance its accuracy. The gender ofrespondents include equal number of men and women, so the results arenot biased. In addition, the Computer Assisted Qualitative DataAnalysis Software enhances the system accuracy when comparingresults. As part of our ethical research promise, we will use codenames to protect the confidential information of respondents.Furthermore, archiving the data in a local library in electronic formand under a system protected by the SSL security will ensure that theidentity of our respondents shall remain confidential for a longtime.
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