Resources for Schools

Preparing children for the summer programme

Before the end of  Term 4, schools should revise comprehension strategies. This is in line with research findings from Kim and White (2013) 1 and McNaughton et al. (2012) 2 . These findings indicate that providing access to high-interest, appropriately levelled texts over summer, providing parents with ideas on how to support their child’s reading over summer, and revising comprehension strategies before the end of the school year can reduce summer learning loss or 'summer slide'.

Revision comprehension lessons based on strategies outlined on the Ministry of Education’s Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website for both fiction and non-fiction that could be used by Year 3 and Year 4 teachers are available by clicking on the links:

Fiction lessons:

"Something Strange Going On" »

"Up the Guts" »

"Where's Toki?" »

"Mariri the Flying Man" »

Non-fiction lessons:

"The Port" »

"Night Light" »

"Making Money" »

"Waka Tapu" »

Measuring progress over the summer in reading and maths

Testing before and after the summer holidays should be done as close as possible to the end of Term 4 and the beginning of Term 1. This enables an assessment of progress over the summer holidays and removes the effect of normal schooling. Tests should be done within 2 weeks of the start of the holidays, i.e., early December and within 2 weeks of returning to school, i.e., by mid-February.

The Supplementary Test of Achievement in Reading (STAR) is recommended as it is a standardised assessment, developed in New Zealand and easy to administer.

Using the Assessment Data

The STAR reading assessment »

Click on the link to find the appropriate STAR test for each year group:

Table of STAR tests »

An interesting result that Turner and Tse (2015) 3 report from three phases of their research is that students who were provided with maths workbooks over summer also improved in reading achievement and in fact there were no significant differences between the books and maths groups.

For schools interested in including a maths group to the summer programme, maths assessment should be conducted in the same time frame as the reading assessment.

The Progressive Achievement Test (PAT) Maths is recommended.

Click on the link to find the appropriate test for Year 3 up:

PAT Maths Year Levels Table »

What we have learned from the research

  • Summer learning loss exists in the New Zealand context
  • Providing students with books that closely match their reading and interest levels, providing parents with ideas on how to support their child’s reading over summer, and revising comprehension strategies before the end of the school year can reduce summer learning loss
  • Struggling readers made the greatest gains, particularly in sentence and paragraph comprehension (Turner & Tse, 2015)
  • The home-liaison visitors play a key role as they provide support and guidance to parents and students over the holidays and ensure the momentum of the programme is maintained
  • Parents play a key role in supporting their child’s learning, including over the summer; they need to be informed about the importance of maintaining reading over the holidays and encouraged to support their child’s reading; schools need to work alongside parents to achieve this

Thinking outside the box to support students’ learning over the summer

  • Opening the school library during the holidays
  • Having a second-hand book fair prior to the end of Term 4 – perhaps link up with local Rotary Clubs
  • Setting up “Little Free Libraries” in your area
  • Include suggestions for parents and students, including e-books on the school website
  • Incorporating summer reading ideas into existing home-school support initiatives, for example through the school Mutukaroa teacher or Reading Together tutor
  • Linking up with local public libraries and the mobile library service

What’s happening in your area?

Mobile library bus »

“Little Free Library” website »


1 Kim, J., & White, T.G. (2011). Solving the problem of summer reading loss. Phi Delta Kappan, 92, 64-67.

2  McNaughton, S., Jesson, R., Kolose, T., & Kercher, S. (2012). School achievement: Why summer matters. Retrieved from

3  Turner, L, & Tse, L (2015). Solving summer slide: Strategies and suggestions. Set: Research information for teachers. 2015 (1), 16-24