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Addressing the June Slide: Strategies to Prevent Learning Loss

It’s June. Your schools have finished state standardized tests and are winding down for the summer. As you walk the halls, do your classrooms look only half full? Does it seem like your students (and even some of your teachers) are starting to tune out?

You’re not alone.

In a recent study of New York City’s public schools, nonprofit ExpandED Schools found a nearly six percent drop in attendance from April to June. Perhaps even more alarming—in struggling schools the attendance drop-off hovered around 10 percent.

As we enter the final month of the school year, what can your schools do to avoid the so-called “June slide” and make sure quality learning happens up to and through the last day of school?

ExpandED Schools identified several factors that could contribute to this drop off, most of which are closely tied to the expressed expectations of teachers and parents.

Here’s a few:

Annual events signal the end of the year
Traditional yearly events, such as prom or graduation parties, offer a mental cue that the school year is over to many students, parents, and teachers. If these events come early, say in early May, students tend to zone out for the days and weeks after.

Teachers need prep time
Teachers often use the last two weeks of school to organize their classrooms, complete reams of paperwork, and prepare final grades, leaving less time for instruction.

Post-test fatigue
After months of prepping for standardized tests, which usually occur in May, students, and teachers, for that matter, assume formal lessons are over. Everybody deserves a breather. But you need to decide how to restart those mental engines.

Family vacations start early
Parents, as much as students, can be the culprits when it comes to bad attendance in June. Especially when families schedule vacations before school’s out. Every family is going to set its own priorities. But there are subtle ways to encourage full attendance.

After-school programs end
Many parents rely on afterschool programs as a place for their children to go when the school day ends. But there’s a problem: Many of these programs end before the school year is actually over, forcing parents to leave their children at home.

To tackle these hurdles, ExpandED Schools suggests a few strategies for keeping parents, students, and teachers interested and engaged through the end of the school year:

Extend after-school programs
Certain aftercare programs in NYC, for example, are required to operate for 36-weeks each year, ensuring that programs are offered well into June. Such requirements as well as stronger agreements with community organizations to extend programming, give students a safe place to go after school. That might well be enough to keep some parents from pulling their kids out early.

Strengthen relationships with community organizations
Community partners, including after-school providers, are often important influences in the lives of students and parents. Consider partnering with these organizations to help spread the word about school attendance. Many schools that have successfully preserved student attendance in June hold co-hosted events with community organizations, including student showcases, talent shows, or other events to encourage students to stay involved in school until the year is out.

Focus on parent, teacher, and student engagement
Many parents and students don’t understand the importance of the final weeks of the school year, while many educators still haven’t figured out how to tackle student burnout.

The solution? Talk to your community. Have a conversation.

ExpandED Schools says establishing an ongoing dialogue between school leaders and the community is critical in the fight against student and teacher exhaustion. School leaders should use these discussions to stress the importance of year-end attendance on student success.

How do you keep your students, parents, and teachers engaged until the last day of the school year? Tell us in the comments.

Looking to engage your community to prevent summer burnout? Start a conversation.