EDUCATION OFFICIALS FROM L.A. COUNTY MEET TO DISCUSS NEED FOR EXPANSION OF SUMMER LEARNING

EDUCATION OFFICIALS FROM L.A. COUNTY MEET TO DISCUSS NEED FOR EXPANSION OF SUMMER LEARNING

      Many school districts from throughout Los Angeles County were represented as school superintendents, cabinet and board members, LA County Supervisors and their staff, and other education officials attended a summit to learn about the need for expansion of summer learning programs, their benefits for youth, and the importance of curbing summer learning loss. The “Leadership Summit on Summer Learning” hosted by Lillian Maldonado French, Superintendent of the Mountain View School District and a 2015 Summer Matters Superhero Honoree was held July 12 at Parkview Elementary School.   During the summit, education leaders were able to see a high-quality summer learning program in action at Parkview Elementary, and learn how to expand these opportunities in their own districts.

            Research shows that summer learning programs provide numerous benefits to students. According to a study by John Hopkins University, during the summer months children who lack access to educational activities fall into a “summer slide,” and lose nearly two months of competency in math and reading. By ninth-grade, summer learning loss is responsible for nearly two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading. In addition, youth without summer learning programs gain weight at a higher rate than during the school year. The Greater Los Angeles Summer Matters Networks, an initiative of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Expanded Learning Unit, is working to address these inequities by raising awareness about the value of these programs, particularly in under resourced communities, and expand summer learning opportunities to youth throughout the county.

            “Having access to unique summer learning opportunities that keep youth busy and active during summer when they’re away from school can have a significant impact on their academic progress and overall wellbeing, said Mary Jo Ginty, Regional Lead/ Program Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Expanded Learning Technical Assistance Unit. “This summit will help us share best practices with leading practitioners and policy makers in the education field, so that we can continue to expand the summer learning network and serve more youth,” added Ginty.

            In a 2012 independent study by the Summer Matters campaign evaluating student academic achievement, the data showed that summer learning strengthens students’ academic skills in literacy, and improves work habits and their confidence as learners. Students who participated in these programs showed the following:

 

  • At the end of the summer, students showed improved vocabulary skills that were much closer to their grade level, and increased their instructional grade level by more than 1/3 of a grade.
  • English language learners showed increases in grade-level vocabulary; a gateway to English fluency.
  • Students enhanced social skills, experienced improved relationships in the school setting, and strengthened their ability to connect with teachers and peers.

 

            In addition, parents and teachers said that students showed an improved disposition toward reading, and that field trips and service learning projects offered through the program provided new learning experiences and opportunities for students that enhanced the overall academic experience.

            “We’ve seen tremendous progress among students who attend summer learning programs in our school district,” said Lillian Maldonado French, superintendent of Mountain View School District. “We serve more than 7,000 kids in 12 schools from kindergarten through eighth grade and 600 preschool students through Head Start/ State Preschool and Children’s Center program, so we’re constantly looking for ways to offer the best academic experience to our students. Summer learning programming has been key to this effort. It isn’t summer school or remedial school, summer learning offers new – fun – opportunities for kids to think, learn, and engage. As education leaders we need to work together and strategize on how to expand these programs,” added Maldonado French.

 

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