“About two-thirds of the 9th grade academic achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and advantaged teens can be explained by summer learning loss during the elementary school years."
-Karl Alexander, et al, American Sociological Review, April 2007
Academic Summer Club is a pilot project to explore whether an academic summer camp program for public elementary school children could help close the achievement gap. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) was selected for this project because it has a diverse student population, is well-funded, and has a history of innovation to reduce the achievement gap. Despite its creative efforts, the achievement gap stubbornly persists at BUSD.
In 2008, using excess funds from a CA Department of Education grant, BUSD was able to start a very small summer school program. The program has evolved over time, but remained very small. The overall impact of the program, and the effect of various program improvements, have never been evaluated. In 2015, we partnered with BUSD to facilitate a deeper understanding of this program.
In 2016, we were able to assist BUSD in securing a researcher devoted to conducting a longitudinal assessment of whether elementary school students participating in BUSD summer school have improved educational outcomes. The study will also explore 1) the effect of particular variables on student learning, such as teachers working with students with whom they have a pre-existing relationship and classrooms with a high percentage of students with IEPs; 2) the effect of select refinements to the program, such as a compressed period for summer school which resulted in a higher percentage of BUSD teachers; 3) what interventions/enrichment activities could be most beneficial to summer school students; and 4) what other no or low cost ideas could improve the scope, reach or effectiveness of the program.
The research is ongoing and will be completed in 2017.