Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Summer Program that Boosts Engagement Gets Results

Robotic clubs are one way to boost young people's
interest in math and science.
By Sam Piha

Baltimore public schools recently issued the results of their summer program offered in 2010. The summer program was wildly successful in attracting and retaining students - attendance increased by 3,000 over last year, with middle school enrollment climbing from 300 to 2,000 and boasting an 85% attendance rate.

Summer students also showed dramatic academic gains."In the new program, elementary school students noted double-digit percentage-point gains in language arts and math tests taken at the beginning and end of the summer; more than 60 percent of middle-schoolers who participated in newly created summer programs retained or gained skills; and more high-schoolers passed their high school assessment courses," wrote Erica Green in The Baltimore Sun.

So what made the difference in the success of the 2010 summer program? (The answer would come as no surprise to those who support the Learning in Afterschool principles.) They moved from a "remedial, punitive model, to highlighting the importance of enrichment," said Ashley Stewart, senior director of community initiatives for the National Summer Learning Association. Enrichment included robotics, forensics, and sports. Stewart said many districts' summer programs suffer because they don't understand that "when you create a program that provides academic rigor with things that are fun and engaging, you have a captive audience." 

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