Public Education Partners’ Make Summer Count program allows students in participating elementary schools to pick out books for summer reading that become part of their home libraries.

Seventy-eight percent of third- through fifth-grade students who participated in Public Education Partners’ Make Summer Count reading program maintained or increased their reading levels during summer break in 2016.

Through Make Summer Count, Public Education Partners and Scholastic allowed 18,000 students at the 29 participating Greenville County elementary schools to select 11 books for their home libraries. They also hosted 23 Family Reading Night events to foster family engagement.

A RAND Corporation report released in 2011 showed that the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students is equivalent to one month per year. But the report also showed that summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students. Low-income students, who often don’t have books of their own at home and frequently do not have the transportation to get to a public library, lose an average of two months of reading skills while their peers from higher-income families, who have plenty of reading material at home and may attend learning-focused summer camps and go on educational vacations, make slight gains.

A study of students in Baltimore by researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed that two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income high school freshmen could be traced to summer learning loss during the elementary school years. Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school. If those struggling readers are poor, they are 13 times likelier to be high school dropouts.

Research conducted by Scholastic on the Make Summer Count program showed the majority of students at least maintained their reading levels from spring to fall 2016. Students in the program read an average of 14.7 books, compared to the national average of 12 books. The percentage of students who read for an hour or more without stopping doubled to 26 percent. Ninety-eight percent of families said their children were better readers after the summer.

“With these great results, Make Summer Count is now proof that through effective public-private partnership and research-based programming, we can combat summer reading loss and thus better set our students up for long-term success,” said Dr. Ansel Sanders, PEP president and CEO.

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