June 2010 Archives

Today, I'm a guest blogger on ASCD's Whole Child blog. I've decided to write about the National Summer Learning Association's "Champions of Summer Learning." The five honorees live the idea that summer learning means more than makeup work. Their work in schools and communities is designed to engage children and to keep low-income students from falling behind their peers in the summer. Check out the blog post here. On a personal note, Beyond School is taking a brief holiday break. The blog will return the week July 5. Happy 4th everyone!...


Education Week has a new story today about the cuts many districts are making to summer school programs to save money. My colleague Erik Robelen, however, also highlights the innovative and expanded summer-enrichment programs that some schools are offering. Take a look at his story to see how different districts are approaching summer learning. Baltimore is one of the places that's trying to do things differently—and more creatively—this year. "Last year, we took on that more remedial approach," Ryan Reid, Baltimore's coordinator for summer middle school programs, tells Education Week. "But we've decided, we have to go beyond...


The Afterschool Alliance has named Anita Krishnamurthi to its newly created post of director of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) policy. She will work to advance policies that grow STEM curriculum in after-school programs. Krishnamurthi served most recently as the John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow at the American Astronomical Society. Prior to that, she worked at NASA for six years, first as an education-and-public-outreach-program planning specialist at NASA headquarters and later as lead for education and public outreach in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Her formal training is in astrophysics. "After-school ...


The Wallace Foundation this week announced a $9 million initiative to expand, test, and promote high-quality summer-learning and expanded day- and school-year programs for disadvantaged children in cities. "It's becoming increasingly clear that the traditional school calendar may not be ideal for students, especially those in the most need," M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation, said in a news release announcing the effort. "If we provide more high-quality learning time for disadvantaged students by offering summer learning and extending the school day—and use that time effectively—we may be able to substantially improve students' achievement." The initiative...


Happy summer—and happy Summer Learning Day! Yes, June 21 isn't just the summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere) this year; it's also the day to raise awareness of summer learning efforts and their benefits. The goal of Summer Learning Day is "to focus attention on how summer learning programs help close the achievement gap and promote healthy development," the National Summer Learning Association says. (NSLA is a major proponent of the day.) To find out about summer learning events nationwide, check out this page on the NSLA website....


Over at the Curriculum Matters blog, my colleague Erik Robelen writes about NASA's new Summer of Innovation initiative. The program is designed to engage thousands of middle school students in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—activities during the summer months. "I hope that by getting these students involved in NASA's missions and programs now, it may pave the way for a new generation of scientists and engineers, which is critically important to our nation's future," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says in a news release announcing the initiative's launch (so to speak)....


"What would I do without summer learning?" That question, posed by Baltimore 4th grader Brandon McKoy on Capitol Hill this morning, capped an interesting event where a "new vision" for summer school was unveiled to congressional staffers and education advocates. Officials of the National Summer Learning Association and others (including Brandon) highlighted the importance of sustaining—and expanding—high-quality programs, even in tough budget times. Speakers called the programs critical, particularly in terms of easing achievement gaps between students and fighting the summer-learning loss that is a perennial problem for poor children and the schools that educate them. For too ...


The Harvard Family Research Project has updated its online bibliography of research on out-of-school-time programs. Want to know what research Harvard is tracking on the OST front? Check it out here. Harvard also offers an OST Research & Evaluation Database that could be a terrific resource. Its easy to use—you can select for type of program researched (i.e. before school, summer, etc.), type of funding, type of research methods, and more....


First lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get kids exercising and eating right is well-known; this week she added summer reading to her list of healthy to-do's for kids. At an event in Washington to launch the "Let's Read. Let's Move." initiative, Mrs. Obama and congressional leaders packed "Healthy Lifestyle Kits" that included healthy snacks and books to be distributed to more than 3,000 children. Four federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, are involved in the effort, as is the Corporation for National and Community Service. The idea behind "Let's Read. Let's Move." is to get more ...


A new report from Massachusetts 2020 takes a look at factors that seem to propel some expanded learning time (ELT) initiatives beyond others when it comes to student achievement. "More Time for Learning: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned" offers a "progress report" on ELT in Massachusetts, where the state has enacted policy to rethink and expand on the traditional learning day. Mass/2020 is working with 22 Bay State schools that have added time to the school day. The report offers a snapshot of what's happening in different schools and how students have been affected. Not surprisingly, the authors write: "Simply...


ASCD recently hosted a timely and interesting "Whole Child Podcast" on summer learning. You can check it out here. Host Molly McCloskey opens by referencing research on summer learning loss and its greater impact on poor children whose families can't afford the camps and other enrichment opportunities available to wealthier households. High-quality summer programs "can really help close that [summer learning] experience gap," she says. The podcast guests are: Ron Fairchild, the CEO of the National Summer Learning Association; Margaret Brodkin, the initiative director of New Day for Learning in San Francisco; and Cate Reed, the project coordinator of Pittsburgh ...


The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago leaders are considering adding two hours to the school day at 100 troubled elementary schools. And that's not all: To save money, the Chicago plan envisions using "proctors" rather than certified teachers, as well as computerized classes to add those two hours. The initiative would target 1st through 8th graders—according to one version of the plan, half would attend two hours of computerized math and reading classes before school, and the other half after school. "Some schools on academic probation could get the program for three to five days a week as early...


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