Mayor Walsh announces summer learning programs to serve nearly 12,000 Boston students
May 5, 2016
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang and community leaders today to announce that 11,976 Boston students are expected to participate in data-driven summer learning opportunities this year, nearly doubling the number of students served last year.
Last July, Mayor Walsh and Superintendent Chang set an ambitious citywide goal to expand the Boston Summer Learning Community, challenging program leaders to enroll 10,000 school children in 100 summer learning programs by 2017. With the addition of 41 new program sites over recent months, the city is positioned to surpass this goal one year ahead of schedule.
"Summer learning creates brighter futures for our young people and helps us build a stronger city," said Mayor Walsh. "The overwhelming response to our challenge proves that our community sees the need and shares our vision for high-quality learning opportunities for all young people. I thank all of the organizations that have stepped up this year to meet our ambitious goals."
Research shows that, on average, students lose knowledge and skills over the summer months, and that this phenomenon - known as "summer slide" - has a disproportionate, cumulative effect on low-income youth.
The Boston Summer Learning Community was launched in 2010 by Boston After School & Beyond and the Boston Public Schools, with support from the Boston Opportunity Agenda. Last year the initiative served 5,626 school children in 79 summer programs across the city.
The Mayor and Superintendent made the announcement at Berklee College of Music, surrounded by representatives from 120 committed summer sites. A new summer partner for this year, Berklee College of Music operates City Music Boston, a renowned after-school and summer program that provides comprehensive music education to 4th through 12th graders in underserved communities.
"Summer learning helps slow the summer slide and helps boost critical skills that are needed for college and career success," said Superintendent Chang. "The depth and breadth of these new programs and offerings is truly inspiring and will bring new opportunities for our students to learn year round.
Unlike traditional summer school programs offered exclusively in school facilities, the Boston Summer Learning Community immerses young people in new, exciting, local environments - such as natural preservations, the Harbor Islands, college campuses, and workplaces - with an explicit focus on building skills in addition to academic content. Other new program sites for 2016 include Mass Audubon's Boston Nature Center, Northeastern University's Bridge to Calculus program, and St. Stephen's Youth Programs in the South End.
The Boston Summer Learning Community will support specific groups of students, including English language learners, recent immigrants, off-track high school students, youth assigned to mandatory summer school and rising 9th graders. A subset of these programs will participate in the Superintendent's "5th quarter" initiative - an effort to align summer learning to school-year priorities and to strengthen students' college and career readiness skills.
"The Mayor and Superintendent deserve enormous credit for setting this ambitious goal and drawing in the right partners to make this a huge success," said Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond. "Boston has become a model for the state in prioritizing summer learning and our students will see the results."
This landmark announcement comes on the heels of recent statewide legislation and rigorous research that shows that high quality summer learning programs can improve student outcomes.
In March the Joint Committee on Education reported favorably on H.4033 - An Act to increase access to high quality summer learning opportunities. At the committee hearing, education and municipal leaders from around the state - including Mayor Walsh, New Bedford Schools Superintendent Pia Durkin, and former Education Secretary Paul Reville - advocated for favorable consideration of this bill. Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll also submitted written testimony in support of the legislation.
Aiming to close the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps across the state, this bold new legislation would establish a pilot grant program to expand research-based summer learning in districts across the Commonwealth with high concentrations of low-income students.