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Eastern N.C. county road-tests program to keep students reading during the summer

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5bThe “summer slide” is well documented. Students tend to lose some of their educational gains over the summer months. It is, of course, one of the reasons why some will fervently argue for restructuring the school calendar.

Today, EdNC posted a fascinating report on rural Perquimans County, a relatively low-wealth county in northeastern North Carolina, that unveiled a new program aimed at blunting that summer slide.

From EdNC‘s Seth Effron:

So, the obvious: What about giving the students a device that would bring as many as 40 books to the students at one time, that weighed less than a pound and easily fit into a backpack?

“By using technology to increase access to books, we hoped children would read more and sustain reading skills throughout the summer break,” Fields said.

By combining some funds from Race to the Top with Title I and other technology dollars, the school system was able to partner with Barnes & Noble Booksellers and purchase 160 Nooks for second graders.

The results? According to Effron, there was some good news in the data.

The big news was that students who participated in the summer program earned higher scale reading scores in the following school year than those who didn’t take part. More than a third, or 36 percent, of the students who took part in the program saw an improvement in their reading skills. “Those who had the Nooks did better during the school year,” Fields said.

  • The data indicated that overall, all students experienced some level of a summer slide in basic reading skills. However, students who participated in the Nook program had a lower rate of skill loss. 

  • End-of-Year first grade data indicated that students who participated in the Nook program finished first grade with lower Scale Scores and individual Literacy Sub-Domain Scores. However, after participating in the Nook program, the Beginning-of-Year second grade data indicates that the students who used the Nooks out-performed students who did not in every single area assessed with the STAR Early Literacy program.   

  • The data also indicates that 34.6 percent of students who participated in the Nook program reflected growth during the summer.

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