Bridging the Achievement Gap with Summer Reading

In recent years, closing the achievement gap has been high on the priority list. Among many signs, the achievement gap is evident in things like poor test scores and grades, higher dropout rates, and limited class participation. As legislation, educators, and parents look for ways to close the gap, improving literacy has proven to be a popular choice to tackle these problems.

In Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, and Tennessee, legislators are considering implementing a law that allows school districts to retain students in third grade who can’t pass the state reading exams, according the article “Bills Prod Schools to Hold Back Third-Graders.” These states are taking on a new strategy to improve reading: hold back students in their early years so they have the skills to advance in future grades. However, this push is controversial due to evidence that shows retained students do not do better academically than students who had identical academic achievement but were promoted.

New York City is also taking a new approach to combat low-reading scores among students at third- and fourth-grade levels. “The core problem of literacy in middle school is you’re transitioning from learning to read, to reading to learn,” said Josh Thomases, deputy chief academic officer for the Education Department in the article “New Tactics on Reading at Middle Schools.” This is why teachers entering 18 of New York City’s lowest performing schools will go through training that teaches instructors how to teach middle school students specifically.

One of the best opportunities for low-income students to keep up or improve their reading is simply by reading during the summer. Summer reading losses are more severe in lower socioeconomic families who are already at a greater risk of academic failure, according to Reading Rockets. Students should be encouraged to read anything from classical literature to magazines, from their favorite blog to graphic novels.

LifeBound’s book Success in Middle School is the perfect book to add to your student’s reading list this summer to not only keep them reading, but to allow them to get prepared for a new social, academic, and emotional environment. Visit to see our reading list for middle school students, high school students and college students. Help a child in your life make the most out of this summer.


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