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Boston Summer Learning Reaches Record High Student Participation in 10th Year

Mayor Walsh Launching 5th Quarter of Learning

Mayor Walsh celebrates the launch of the 5th Quarter of Learning on May 20.

On Monday, May 20, Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined community leaders, teachers, and students at the Franklin Park Zoo on Monday, May 20 to launch the 2019 5th Quarter of Learning, which will reach over 14,000 students in 160 programs, an all-time high that caps 10 years of innovation and growth.   

“Learning shouldn’t stop when the school year does, and that’s why through this initiative we’re providing opportunities for students to continue their education over the summer,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am proud that Boston continues to lead the way in providing more opportunities for young people to learn and grow year-round.”

The 5th Quarter of Learning was launched 10 years ago and has tallied over $20 million in public and private investment to support 47,000 Boston students in hundreds of summer programs. Most recently, Massachusetts allocated more than $500,000 to extend summer learning to 19 communities across the state in order to develop and expand high quality programming for 2,200 students this summer.

“Together, these programs have transformed a good idea into public policy, enabling more students to have the kind of enriching summers that will equip them to succeed in school and beyond,” said Chris Smith, Executive Director of Boston After School & Beyond, which coordinates summer learning programs in partnership with the Boston Public Schools.  

The Boston Public Schools are investing $3.2 million to support 69 school and community programs that integrate academics and enrichment, an approach shown by the RAND Corporation to get strong academic results in a 2016 study of five cities, including Boston. By transitioning from the traditional summer school model to a citywide summer learning system, the district expects to activate learning for 6,500 students, including those who are experiencing homelessness, English Learners, and students off-track to graduate.  

“The 5th Quarter of Learning provides rigorous, hands-on, project-based experiences that help prevent the ‘summer slide,’ ensuring our students continue to stretch their skills and knowledge outside of the conventional school year,” said BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille.

Research has shown that a substantial portion of the achievement gap between low-income students and their higher income peers can be explained by unequal access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. The RAND Corporation and the Wallace Foundation indicated that this summer learning model, in which students engage in academics and enrichment with BPS teachers and program staff, provides high attending students with statistically significant advantages in math and English Language Arts that persist through the entire school year.

In addition to academics, students in the 5th Quarter engage in hands-on activities that enable them to apply academic knowledge in exciting ways and in new environments. Students learn to sail, dance, act, or play lacrosse in enriching settings like Courageous Sailing, Simmons College, MassArt, and Harlem Lacrosse. Providing opportunities to learn new skills in new situations, the 5th Quarter helps students build key life readiness skills, like critical thinking, perseverance, and collaboration, in addition to academic content.