Is Summer Vacation Bad for the Nation?

beachThough we’ve often written about the dangers of summer learning loss (AKA brain drain), our focus has largely been on how to combat that learning loss for individual students. Students who read during the summer or who participate in educational activities simply don’t experience the same level of learning loss as students who lack the access or motivation to engage in activities that keep their brains active during the long summer months. Summer learning loss can be combated — but only by those with the wherewithal to do so.

A recent article in Politico Magazine examined summer vacation’s impact on national educational attainment. In the article, author Bridget Ansel points out that this is hardly a new concern:

President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education recommended more school time. Panicking over America’s “mediocre educational performance” and its implication for national security and economic pre-eminence, the commission endorsed a 200-220 day school year. This position was echoed in 2009 by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who argued “our year is way too short” because children in countries like China and India were in school for many more days — putting American kids at a competitive disadvantage.

International test scores consistently show that our best and brightest students outperform the top students of other nations, but our middle- and bottom-of-the-pack students perform far worse than students of other nations. Although this information is comforting to top performing students as individuals, for the nation as a whole, such trends are troubling. It’s worth asking: Can we afford to allow half the student population to fail?

Read the whole article here: The Case Against Summer Vacation