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Boston Public Schools Launches Summer Programming Application Process
BOSTON — Thursday, November 16, 2017 — Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the City of Boston today launched a competitive process for community partners to provide programming for city youth in the 5th Quarter summer learning initiative, a nationally-recognized, research-based effort to re-envision traditional summer education for city youth.
“Boston is leading the nation with this innovative 5th Quarter approach,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Summer learning shows what’s possible when the Boston Public Schools and a robust network of community partners come together to set ambitious goals and invest in the future of Boston students and families.”
Superintendent Tommy Chang addressed nearly 200 education and community leaders involved in the summer learning initiative during a yearly meeting Thursday at the Bolling Municipal Building, the headquarters of Boston Public Schools.
“Summer provides us with great flexibility around time, place, and activities for students to have fun and learn new skills in engaging ways,” Dr. Chang said. “The 5th Quarter has brought learning alive for our young people, and is building relevancy between academic skills and how they relate to the world around them.”
More than 13,000 students were served in 2017 through BPS- or City-affiliated summer learning programs. In a report released today by Boston After School & Beyond, which highlights 132 programs serving 10,300 students, it showed that those students had an average daily attendance rate of 83 percent. A recent national report from RAND shows that students with a daily average attendance rate higher than 80 percent in voluntary summer programs see significant advantages in math, English language arts, and social and emotional skills, and that academic benefits persist through the school year.
“The 5th Quarter is a model for how schools and community partners can redesign the learning experience and address college, career, and life readiness throughout the year,” said Boston’s Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey.
“A robust and diverse network of programs coming together around the same measures helps reach a greater variety of students in more targeted ways,” said Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond.
BPS and the City are investing approximately $2.25 million for the 5th Quarter for 2018.
For the first time, 15 programs that are part of the 5th Quarter awarded badges to recognize proficiency and growth in key readiness skills. Sixty percent of eligible students earned at least one badge in communication, teamwork, perseverance, or critical thinking, amounting to 1,379 total badges awarded in summer 2017. Teamwork was the most frequently earned badge.
Of the 132 programs in the 5th Quarter network, 32 received funding last year from BPS to run Summer Learning Academies for high-need students, including English learners. These programs will have to re-apply for funding this year.
“We are looking forward to a competitive application process that is based not only on promising ideas, but a track record of results,” said Jan Manfredi, director of expanded learning for the Boston Public Schools.
The summer network extends the classroom to the community, featuring a wide array of enrichment activities, from boat building to entrepreneurship, and a focus on social-emotional skills, like perseverance and critical thinking.
Boston is one of five cities that participated in the National Summer Learning Project, funded by The Wallace Foundation and evaluated by the RAND Corporation. The latest evaluation report, Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth, explains the impact of programs in summers 2013 and 2014. The other cities include Dallas, Duval County (FL), Pittsburgh, and Rochester (NY).
Legislation filed by Representative Alice Peisch calls for an expansion of this research-based summer learning approach across the Commonwealth. The Joint Committee on Education reported favorably on House bill 2868, “An Act to increase access to high quality summer learning opportunities,” sending it to the House Committee on Ways and Means last spring.