School district’s new approach to summer learning

Today 2,300 Pittsburgh Public Schools K-8 graders will board a bus and head back to school. Why? Because educators and parents in Pittsburgh, like the rest of the nation, know that without learning opportunities during the summer months, the persistent achievement gap between higher- and lower-income kids will continue to grow, says Linda S. Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, for the Washington Post. According to the National Summer Learning Association, every year, most youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills over the summer. Low-income youth also lose more than two months in reading achievement. A recent RAND Corporation report found that quality summer learning programs can help boost student achievement, and our firsthand experience tells us the same. My own light bulb moment came in April 2009 at NSLA’s annual conference for summer learning advocates and providers. While our district offered summer school, attendance was low and the program was ineffective at stemming summer learning loss. We needed a new summer experience that parents and kids would seek out, that would deliver engaging activities leading to academic gains.

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