Camden’s Breakthrough Commitment to Prevent Summer Reading Slide

Thanks to the “perfect storm” of publicity last summer, by now just about everyone knows that the most effective (and economical) way to sustain reading growth achieved during the school year is for students to keep reading during the summer. Drawing upon the academic research by noted literacy experts such as Richard Allington and Karl Alexander, news coverage by prominent columnists such as David Brooks of The New York Times and Greg Toppo of USA Today, and topped off by First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative “United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move,” parents, schools, and districts are taking steps not just to prevent summer reading slide, but to reverse it.

In a breakthrough commitment by Camden City Public Schools and the City of Camden, this summer every student entering Grades 1-8 is eligible to attend a 4-week program, (July 5-29), that will focus on reading and writing. The city expects 2,800 students to participate across 17 schools. “Our students made unprecedented gains in reading growth this year that we tracked by student,” said Andrea Kirwin-Gonzalez, Assistant Superintendent of Camden City Public Schools. “This district-wide summer program is designed to build upon these results and jump-start home routines for parents to make sure students read throughout the summer.”

In partnership with American Reading Company, more than 180 teachers have been trained to support a structured independent reading framework based on the newly minted Common Core Standards, approved for New Jersey. With Summer Learning Labs, students will read independently from fiction and nonfiction leveled libraries and practice the writing process as they draft, revise, edit, and publish their own books on the topics of Bugs, Animals, or Marine Life. Students will also take books home each night to support home reading with parents.

According to Jane Hileman, Founder & CEO of American Reading Company, “I applaud Camden’s school leadership for this aggressive summer program. It’s essential that parents and schools work together during the summer to support sustained reading growth.”

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