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Waco ISD keeps students reading this summer to prevent skill loss.

WACO, TX (July 3, 2024)--4,488 students + 22,440 books = boosted reading skills. Waco ISD is distributing thousands of books this summer to nearly 5,000 1st-5th grade students to prevent what is known as the summer slide. The book distribution includes books printed in Spanish for the district’s emergent bilingual population. 


“Summer reading book packs are distributed based on the students’ reading levels,” WISD Director of Intervention Services Kourtni Parnell said, “The book packs contain summer reading journals and a reading log. Students are challenged to read 20 minutes a day and return the reading log to their campuses for prizes when school starts on August 14.” 


This is the second summer the district has hosted Camp Readalot using Title I and Texas Education Agency State Compensatory Education funds to help close achievement gaps for students. 


“The primary purpose is to keep students engaged in reading over the summer months to reduce the ‘summer slide,” Parnell said.” Literacy impacts all areas of education, but research shows a high correlation to a larger achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students who do not read over the summer months compared to their middle-income peers.” 


Waco is also working to reduce the summer slide with Jump Start Summer School starting Monday, July 8, for kindergarten and first grade students. Jump Start reteaches the most important foundational skills learned in the previous grade to help students retain those skills and be prepared for the upcoming grade they are entering when school starts on August 14


Studies show children lose about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year. Reading skills of kindergarten and first-graders are most susceptible to decay without frequent practice.


Waco ISD also maintains Free Little Libraries in front of all of its elementary schools offering free age-appropriate books for students throughout the summer and school year to keep their reading skills current.