The achievement gap between low-income and their higher-income peers is explained largely by unequal access to learning opportunities beyond the school day. Summer is an especially precious resource and a great time to help students get a good jump on the upcoming school year.
Now we have rigorous national research to support this idea. As detailed yesterday in The Boston Globe, it is increasingly clear that schools working with community partners can advance learning year-round, while making it engaging and fun.
In partnership with The Wallace Foundation and RAND, Boston was one of five cities across the country selected to participate in the largest study to date to measure the effects of summer learning. With the release of the near-term findings in Ready for Fall?, we now have concrete evidence that we’re on the right track to close the persistent achievement gap.
I hope you will visit our web site to learn more about how we are connecting school, afterschool, and summer learning strategies so that all young people leave high school ready for the challenges of college and future careers.
Chris Smith, Executive Director, Boston After School & Beyond
Boston Summer Learning Summit
On February 23, 2015, over 90 organizations gathered together for a presentation of national study findings on summer learning, remarks from Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey and Interim Superintendent John McDonough, and rich peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
Here’s what the research shows thus far:
There is great demand among low-income students and families for free, voluntary summer learning programs.
Children who participated in these programs entered school in the fall with a meaningful advantage in math, as compared to students who applied for the program but weren’t selected.
While the study did not reveal differences in reading scores between the two groups of students, the study found that factors such as high instructional quality, site orderliness, and grade-level teachers are associated with positive reading outcomes for children.
Though just shy of statistical significance, Boston saw a positive indicator on measures of social-emotional skills.
These near-term results affirm all the hard work of our educators, schools, community-based partners, and civic leaders. While rigorous academic preparation is certainly crucial to success, it is only one piece of the puzzle. In order to be successful in college and beyond, children also need ample opportunities to acquire vital skills such as perseverance, creativity, and critical thinking, which we call “power skills.” As evidenced by this study, summer is a great space to start.
Ultimately, this is only the first chapter in an ongoing story about summer learning and the critical need to expand quality out-of-school learning opportunities for all students. As we approach Summer 2015, we look forward to continuing these dialogues both in person and online so that we can build on these lessons and pursue a comprehensive, coordinated approach to eliminate the opportunity gap.
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