Top 10 Reasons to Teach the Science of Reading in Summer School


Top 10 Reasons to Teach the Science of Reading in Summer School


      NAEP Reading Scores Dropped Due to the Pandemic 

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the 2022 Nation's Reading Report Card scores declined at both the Grades 4 and 8 levels compared to 2019. Compared to 2019 (before the pandemic):

  • Average scores declined in both 4th and 8th grade.
  • Average scores declined for most states.
  • Students' confidence in their reading skills declined.

This has been additionally confirmed by other studies including a study done by the National Institute of Health (NIH): “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented disruption in students’ academic development.” NIH tracked 5 million U.S. students’ reading test scores in Grades 3–8, during the first two years of the pandemic, and their results “suggest that many upper elementary students are at-risk for reading difficulties and will need targeted supports to build and strengthen foundational reading skills." They also note that “intervention in reading is crucial to ensure students can continue to access grade-level content in written materials during the instruction of other subject areas (e.g., math, science, history).” 

These studies support what teachers instinctively already know, that the literacy crisis in the United States has only gotten worse. Only 63% of fourth-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Basic level in 2022. This percentage was 4 percentage points lower compared to 2019 (NAEP).


       Summer is an Excellent Time to Introduce the Science of Reading

The science of reading is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on the cognitive processes involved in reading. By teaching lessons aligned with the science of reading in summer school, you can help students develop a strong foundation in the skills and strategies that are essential for becoming successful proficient readers.

Read our What is the Science of Reading Blog


      Reduce Special Education Referrals and Support Struggling Readers 

Summer school reading intervention can reduce special education referrals. It provides an opportunity to identify and address gaps in learning and reading difficulties early before they become more significant.  

Students who struggle with reading benefit from scientifically-aligned reading instruction that is explicit and systematic. This can help to prevent future reading problems and ensure that students are on track for success in reading fluency, vocabulary development and reading comprehension. 


      Provide Individualized and Differentiated Instruction 

Summer school and summer tutoring can offer smaller class sizes and one-on-one tutoring, which provides an opportunity for more individualized and differentiated reading instruction. This can be especially beneficial for students who need more targeted support and repetitions with reading. Giving students additional support in the summer is crucial. Students who struggle with reading may benefit from additional support during the summer. Summer school can provide an opportunity for these students to receive targeted instruction that can help them catch up with their peers. 


      Provide Opportunities for Vocabulary Instruction 

The science of reading includes a focus on vocabulary development. By teaching vocabulary skills coupled with decoding in summer school, you can provide students with opportunities for enrichment and help them become more proficient readers. As learners become more familiar with sound sequences, they more rapidly learn new words that contain them (Storkel, 2001).   

Teachers intuitively know the critical role that vocabulary knowledge plays in college readiness and lifetime achievement.  Results from a study done at Illinois State University indicate that vocabulary knowledge is significantly correlated with GPA and students' ability to learn words in a limited amount of time. Students with higher vocabulary scores earned higher gain scores and GPA. 



        Build Teacher Knowledge and Meet Science of Reading Curriculum Goals

Teaching lessons rooted in the science of reading can also help build teacher knowledge and understanding of evidence-based reading instruction. This can have a positive impact on teaching and learning throughout the school year. 

By teaching lessons aligned with the science of reading in summer school, teachers can improve their practice and become more effective at teaching reading. This can lead to improved student outcomes and increased motivation among students. 


Aligning Instruction with the science of reading can provide an opportunity for teachers to collaborate with each other and share best practices. This can also lead to improved instruction and better outcomes for students, and it can help districts meet curriculum goals. Many states are mandating the use of science of reading-aligned curriculum. Using scientifically-aligned lessons in summer school can help students meet the same curriculum goals as during the regular school year. This ensures that they are on track and prepared for the next grade level. 



        Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Summer reading loss, also known as the "summer slide," has been compounded by the loss of instructional time during the pandemic. Summer reading loss is a real phenomenon that occurs when students do not engage in academic activities over the summer. By teaching the science of reading in summer school, you can help prevent this learning loss and ensure that students are ready for the next school year. 


        Boost Student Confidence & Teach Students How to Self-Advocate

By making progress in their reading skills over the summer, students can feel more confident and motivated when they return to school in the fall. There is very little correlation between the ability to read and intelligence. Often those who can't read are very intelligent and develop strategies to hide their weakness. These students do not read accurately, they guess, skip words, add and omit words, and struggle with reading fluency and reading comprehension.  

As they are learning to decode and read accurately, teachers can empower students with information on how to self-advocate and ask for help from teachers. 

Phonological and phonemic awareness  

Decoding and phonics




Other sources of reading difficulty


        Provide a Safe and Structured Environment 

For some students, summer school can provide a safe and structured environment that they may not have at home. This can be especially beneficial for students who may face challenges outside of school. Summer school can also provide an opportunity for teachers to build strong relationships with their students. These relationships can lead to increased trust and motivation, which can have a positive impact on student learning. 


       Collaborate with Families 

Summer school can also provide an opportunity to collaborate with families and involve them in their child's learning. This can help to strengthen the home-school connection and support student success. Use summer school to promote lifelong learning. The science of reading is an approach to reading instruction that can be applied throughout a student's academic career and beyond. By aligning instruction with the science of reading in summer school, you are helping to promote lifelong learning and ensure that students are prepared for success in reading and beyond.  


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