New Legislation Will Help 20,000 MA Students Through Rigorous Summer Learning Model

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Education, Municipal Leaders to Back Peisch Bill at March 7 Hearing

March 4, 2016 | Contact: Danielle Kim, dkim@bostonbeyond.org, 617-345-5322 x280

BOSTON – Education and municipal leaders from around the state are backing bold new legislation to 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.

Mayors and city leaders from Boston, Salem, New Bedford and Worcester joined other education leaders in supporting the bill, modeled after the success of Boston’s programs and filed by Representative Alice Peisch, Chairwoman of the Joint Education Committee.

“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, D-Wellesley. “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.”

“Boston has emerged as a national leader in summer learning, demonstrating that our schools, in partnership with leading community-based organizations, can improve academic and college readiness skills,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We know the importance summer learning has in closing the achievement gap, which is why we are proud to partner with Alice Peisch, chairwoman of the Education Committee, in passing a bill that ensures all children across the Commonwealth have access to high-quality summer learning.”

Summer LearningEmerging 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. 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.

“We have to pay attention to the summer months if our kids are going to reach their full potential,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “This bill will expand Rec Worcester’s partnerships and help keep kids safe and learning all year round.”

“New Bedford is in the midst of a comprehensive initiative to reform its public schools, so the expansion of high-quality learning programs made possible under this measure would provide a major boost to our local reform efforts, increase school performance, and help give our children the education they deserve,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell of New Bedford.

“The summer slide is a real thing for kids everywhere, but especially for those in low income communities with limited options for the summer months,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. “This bill could change that dynamic and leverage untapped community resources in a way we haven’t seen before.”

2016 Boston Summer Learning CommunityThis novel approach to summer learning is based on a data-driven model tested and refined in Boston. The Boston Summer Learning Community was launched in 2010 by the Boston Public Schools and non-profit organization Boston After School & Beyond, in partnership with the Boston Opportunity Agenda.

Unlike traditional summer school programs offered exclusively in school facilities, the Boston Summer Learning Community immerses young people in new, exciting, local environments such as natural preservations, college campuses, and workplaces with an explicit focus on building skills in addition to academic content.

Last year the initiative served over 5,600 school children in 79 summer programs across the city.

Ready-for-FallA 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.

“What happens during the summer months — that time that is not programmed for kids — really matters. And they present great opportunities to help students gain the vital skills and experiences that will help them succeed, not just in school but for the rest of their lives,” said Chris Smith, Executive Director of Boston After School & Beyond. “Local and national data show us that this approach is having a positive impact, and we’re eager to help expand this proven model across the state.”

Several communities around the state have adopted aggressive summer learning initiatives that can be grown through this collaborative state, local and private sector effort.

The Joint Committee of Education will hear the bill on Monday, March 7 at the State House.