Summer Learning Findings Report: 2017 Summer Programs

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Summer Learning Findings Report: 2017 Summer Programs

Out-of-school time (OST) programs, especially summer programs, offer critical support to schools, youth, and their families. Research indicates that OST programs are more than just a safe haven for youth. High quality OST programs can support youth academically and socially.  Some studies show that minorities and youth in low-income communities benefit even more than their more affluent peers suggesting that OST programs are especially important for these young people.

Public schools in Oakland serve a large proportion of youth who typically benefit from additional learning supports, including students from low-income households (73%) and English Learners (31%). High quality OST programs provide additional opportunities for youth to practice the academic and social skills they need to succeed. 

January 2018

Geographic Focus:

Learning From Student Voice: Are Students Engaged?

Children and Youth;Education and Literacy

Learning From Student Voice: Are Students Engaged?

When students have a love of learning and a desire to succeed ─ when they are genuinely engaged with their school and their education ─ they are more likely to learn. Since student engagement is a leading indicator of academic achievement and persistence in school as well as a key element of school climate, educators can greatly benefit from measuring it. So, what does engagement look like, according to the students themselves? To answer this question, YouthTruth analyzed survey responses from over 230,000 students in grades three through twelve. The data was gathered between November 2012 and June 2017 through YouthTruth's anonymous online climate and culture survey, administered in partnership with school districts and charter management organizations across 36 states. Our analysis looked at a subset of questions related to student engagement and uncovered some key insights.

December 2017

Geographic Focus: North America / United States

Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool

Education and Literacy

Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool

Almost everyone believes that afterschool programs are one of those good things for youngsters. And yet many kids are left out: Only 15 percent -- 8.4 million -- of the country's school children participate, according to a report, "America After 3 PM," by the advocacy organization Afterschool Alliance. That leaves millions more students returning to empty houses, or worse. At a Feb. 21-22, 2013 conference in Baltimore, close to 400 people invited from 57 U.S. cities gathered to discuss what they could do to push for better afterschool programs -- and make sure that programming is available to all the kids who need it.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments

Education and Literacy

Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments

Education reform proposals are often based on high-profile or dramatic policy changes, many of which are expensive, politically controversial, or both. In this paper, we argue that the debates over these "flashy" policies have obscured a potentially important direction for raising student performance -- namely, reforms to the management or organization of schools. By making sure the "trains run on time" and focusing on the day-to-day decisions involved in managing the instructional process, school and district administrators may be able to substantially increase student learning at modest cost.

In this paper, we describe three organizational reforms that recent evidence suggests have the potential to increase K -- 12 student performance at modest costs: (1) Starting school later in the day for middle and high school students; (2) Shifting from a system with separate elementary and middle schools to one with schools that serve students in kindergarten through grade eight; (3) Managing teacher assignments with an eye toward maximizing student achievement (e.g. allowing teachers to gain experience by teaching the same grade level for multiple years or having teachers specializing in the subject where they appear most effective).

We conservatively estimate that the ratio of benefits to costs is 9 to 1 for later school start times and 40 to 1 for middle school reform. A precise benefit-cost calculation is not feasible for the set of teacher assignment reforms we describe, but we argue that the cost of such proposals is likely to be quite small relative to the benefits for students. While we recognize that these specific reforms may not be appropriate or feasible for every district, we encourage school, district, and state education leaders to make the management, organization, and operation of schools a more prominent part of the conversation on how to raise student achievement.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis

Education and Literacy;Human Rights and Civil Liberties;Race and Ethnicity

Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis

Examines the rise in school suspensions; their effectiveness; the widening racial/ethnic discipline gap, especially for African-American boys; and the impact of suspensions on academic success and likelihood of incarceration. Makes policy recommendations.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

AfterZones: Creating a Citywide System to Support and Sustain High-Quality After-School Programs

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

AfterZones: Creating a Citywide System to Support and Sustain High-Quality After-School Programs

This report presents P/PV's analysis of the implementation of the AfterZone initiative -- a citywide system-building effort in Providence, RI, that aims to provide high-quality, accessible out-of-school-time services to middle school youth. The AfterZone model is unique in that it is built on a network of "neighborhood campuses" (each campus includes multiple sites in a geographically clustered area), providing participants with the opportunity to travel to programs located outside of the main program facility, the middle school. Incorporating both qualitative and quantitative research findings, the report examines the implementation of the initiative's unique features and documents its operations. It also explores the challenges and successes of Providence's system-building efforts as well as the strategies used to sustain them. A final publication, which will focus on how youth participated in AfterZone programs and the relationship of various patterns of participation to youth outcomes, will be released in 2011.

Geographic Focus:

Testing the Impact of Higher Achievement's Year-Round Out-of-School-Time Program on Academic Outcomes

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy

Testing the Impact of Higher Achievement's Year-Round Out-of-School-Time Program on Academic Outcomes

Presents findings from a multiyear evaluation of an intensive long-term OST program's effect on low-income middle school students' academic performance, attitudes, and behaviors. Outlines implications for financially strapped districts.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Southern)-Maryland, North America-United States (Southern)-Virginia

Learning from Turnaround Middle Schools: Strategies for Success

Education and Literacy

Learning from Turnaround Middle Schools: Strategies for Success

In New York City and around the nation, there is intense interest in the question of what it takes to turn around a low-performing school. This study focused on two sets of initially low-performing NYC middle schools. The first group (the "turnaround schools") exhibited significant growth in academic performance between 2006 and 2010, while the other group saw minimal growth or remained stagnant during the same period. To gain an understanding of how the turnaround schools improved, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with principals and focus groups with teachers in both sets of schools.

This report presents a rich picture of the conditions and strategies that enabled the turnaround schools to boost student achievement. Specifically, it identifies three interrelated "essential conditions" that were largely principal driven: aligning needs with goals, creating a positive work environment, and addressing student discipline and safety. These essential conditions, in turn, set the stage for implementing specific strategies to improve teaching and learning: developing teachers internally, creating small learning communities, targeting student sub-populations, and using data to inform instruction. The report also describes several ongoing challenges faced by all the schools. Finally, it draws on the study's findings to make recommendations for improving the effectiveness of middle schools here in New York City and around the country. The study is part of an ongoing focus on the middle grades for the Research Alliance.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

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