The first year of implementation of the Owensboro Reads summer literacy camp funded by the Public Life Foundation showed very positive results in combating the “summer slide” in reading that plagues students over the summer months. Of the 60 students served by the five week camp, 95 percent (all but three students) made exceptional or expected progress in reading as a result of the camp.
The camp, called Camp Superpower, targeted entering second grade students reading below grade level or showing signs of struggling in their reading progress. Students spent 30 minutes per day with a reading specialist and remaining time of the half-day camp with cognitive coaches on a combination of literacy-oriented projects and summer fun activities.
The summer slide is a widely documented phenomenon based on research conducted by groups such as Scholastic and the Annie E. Casey Foundation which results in reading skill losses during the summer months which are cumulative and lead to wider gaps as students get older. By the time a student reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a two-year lag in reading achievement.
A sample of four second grade classrooms in the Owensboro Public Schools showed that about one-third of the students showed regression on reading assessments administered at the end of summer vacation compared to the same assessment administered at the end of first grade. The sample included 14 students from Camp Superpower, all of which either maintained their pre-summer reading levels or made reading gains as a result of the camp.
Of the 60 students attending the camp, 47 percent made expected progress and 47 percent made exceptional progress on the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) administered to them at the beginning of second grade compared to the same assessment administered at the end of first grade.
Camp Superpower is a partnership between the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro and the Owensboro Public Schools as part of the district’s comprehensive literacy effort called Owensboro Reads. Students and instructors included representation from all five OPS elementary schools. The Public Life Foundation of Owensboro will provide funds to support the camp the next two summers.