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Pacific partners to prevent "summer slide"

University of the Pacific, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and The Record newspaper have worked together to produce, print and distribute summer learning guides to help families support education during the long break from school.
May 20, 2014

Summer can be a time of enrichment and exploration - of camping trips and museum visits. But for too many local children, especially those from low-income families, it's also a time when important academic skills are lost.

To help prevent the "summer slide," University of the Pacific, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and The Record newspaper have worked together to produce, print and distribute summer learning guides with resources and activities to help families support education during the long break from school. The project, part of Pacific's Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third campaign, is a response to research that has identified summer learning loss as a critical roadblock in children's reading success.

"Summer learning is important for all children - not just those who need to catch up," said James Mousalimas, deputy superintendent for the San Joaquin County Office of Education. The county schools office organized committees of teachers to come together and develop the learning activities featured in each guide. "Every fall, our teachers spend two to three weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over their vacations. Instead, you can help your child excel by reading together every day, and getting out and exploring our community."

Nearly 50,000 kindergarten through third-grade students are receiving the eight-page guides, written in English and Spanish. Each grade-specific guide features learning activities to try at home, a directory of free and low-cost educational outings in and around Stockton, and a list of suggested books for summer reading.

The guides, which were printed as a public service of The Record, are also available online at go.Pacific.edu/SummerLearning.

Summer Learning Guides

"Much of the achievement gap we see between lower- and higher-income students can be attributed to unequal access to summer learning opportunities," said Lynn Beck, dean of Pacific's Benerd School of Education. The university oversaw editing and translation of the guides and covered production costs. "The good news is, summer learning doesn't have to be expensive, and it doesn't have to happen in a classroom. Families who read together and who practice the activities in these guides will strengthen academic skills and develop strong educational habits."

Studies show that the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade is a critical milestone on a child's educational path. But it's one that too many San Joaquin County students fail to reach.

According to the 2013 San Joaquin County literacy report card, released by Pacific in September, only 34 percent of local third-graders score at the proficient level on standardized language arts tests.

Through the Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third initiative, Pacific and its community partners are committed to achieving objectives proven to support strong reading skills: ensuring school readiness, promoting parent engagement, boosting attendance rates, and expanding access to summer learning opportunities.

About Beyond Our Gates

Beyond Our Gates represents University of the Pacific's commitment to work with community partners to improve the social and economic health of people in Stockton and San Joaquin County. University President Pamela A. Eibeck convened a series of public forums in 2010 to discuss the community's most urgent problems and to begin considering solutions. Through these continuing conversations, education emerged as a pressing challenge and the most promising means of enhancing quality of life. Beyond Our Gates was created to accomplish this through such projects as Reading By Third and the Tomorrow Project academies for elementary and high school students, as well as through ongoing community engagement via the Beyond Our Gates Community Council. For more information, visit BeyondOurGates.org.

About University of the Pacific

Established in 1851 as the first university in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, music, business, education, engineering and computer science, and pharmacy, and health sciences. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes a campus in San Francisco, which is home to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. For more information, visit www.pacific.edu.