With many students losing two to three months of progress in reading and math skills over summer, it’s necessary to offer stimulating outings that are fun and academic. Discovery Cube provided the opportunity for Elizabeth to expand her knowledge of science in a cool environment with other likeminded students. She was better equipped to begin the 2017 school year and has the inspiration to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon.
There’s no doubt that budget cuts have had a tremendous impact on the availability of summer learning programs throughout California. But with a little creativity and a lot of dedication, some communities have managed to overcome the obstacles and create effective programs that are engaging students, expanding in size and scope, and demonstrating positive outcomes.
Summer learning programs are distinctively different from traditional summer school programs. For Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Summer Matters campaign director at the Partnership for Children and Youth, one word sums up the difference between the summer learning model and summer school: “fun.” Summer learning takes on a “camp-like culture,” and these programs are generally open to all students, rather than only students seeking remedial or advanced coursework.
Currently, over 400 programs operating across the state receive about $130 million annually from Washington. But as Trump seeks to shrink the federal government’s role in education, he’s trying to claw back that funding, arguing that the programs don’t actually boost student achievement like they’re supposed to.
The Summer Matters Road Trip was huge this year! We traveled to programs in 15 different cities, spreading the word about the importance of summer learning. But don’t take our word for it, check out the media coverage of several of the stops on the road trip.
Research indicates that summer learning can be an effective approach to closing opportunity gaps for students from low-income families. Many county offices of education and school districts offer summer learning as part of a complete educational strategy: two-thirds (66%) percent of respondents to a 2013 CSBA survey reported offering some type of summer learning program.
This is the first in a series of articles focusing on strategies to promote student learning and wellness during the summer break from school. This installment presents an overview of the topic and the importance of effective summer programs in helping to close the achievement gap.
A three-stage planning guide for boards developing summer learning programs.
I propose that we retool the old summer school model into summer enrichment camps that focus on 21st century skills. These summer programs would employ teachers who have expertise in applying instructional strategies that foster critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills in our students. They would work in partnership with nonprofit and other youth-serving organizations, public libraries and others to provide full-day learning and enrichment camps.
How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success is an independent evaluation of three Summer Matters pilot programs. The report measures impact on students’ academic achievement – both during the summer months and extending throughout the school year. Analysis of the data concluded high quality summer learning programs in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento have bolstered students’ academic success by strengthening their academic skills in general and literacy skills in particular, and increasing the effectiveness of their work habits and confidence in their abilities as learners.