On May 10th, Representative Alice Peisch, Chair of the Joint Committee on Education hosted a legislative briefing on H.4033 – An Act to increase access to high quality summer learning opportunities to discuss the importance of this vital issue. Chairwoman Peisch was joined by city leaders from across the Commonwealth who urged support for this bill.
This bold new legislation will vastly increase access to high quality summer learning opportunities through a pilot grant program to expand research-based summer learning in districts with high concentrations of low-income students. The bill was reported favorably out of the Education Committee in March and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Chris Smith, BASB’s executive director, then presented the findings of several studies that point to the summer months as a critical time for young people. Emerging research shows that, on average, students lose knowledge and skills over the summer months, and that this phenomenon – known as “summer slide” – has a disproportionate, cumulative effect on low-income youth.
Yet a national randomized controlled trial study conducted by RAND across five cities, including Boston, showed that students who participated in high quality summer programs gained a significant advantage in mathematics over their peers when they returned back to school in the fall.
Mayor Joseph Petty joined the briefing to offer insights into Worcester’s inspiring efforts to expand and unify the city’s summer offerings through its Recreation Worcester initiative. Pia Durkin, Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools, cited summer learning as a key strategy in the district’s recent success moving the needle on English Language Arts, especially among English Language Learner (ELL) students.
Boston’s Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey was also in attendance to discuss the successes of the Boston Summer Learning Community — the data-driven model on which this bill is based. Notably, this summer the Boston Summer Learning Community is projected to serve nearly 12,000 students across 120 sites, thereby suggesting potential for replication across a wide diversity of programs.
The bill, H.4033, authorizes the creation of public-private partnerships to serve high-need students through summer learning programs that offer at least 150 hours of programming with a dual focus on academics and college readiness skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and perseverance.
The legislation features a cost-sharing agreement that would leverage support among the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, local school districts, private funders, and non-profit institutions.
“Despite recent gains in educating our young people, persistent gaps remain. Inequitable access to summer learning deepens these disparities, leaving many young people unprepared for the world of college and careers,” said Chairwoman Peisch, in a March press release. “We have a responsibility to ensure that summer learning is not just a privilege of the few, but an integral aspect of every child’s education.”