State Officials Launch Summer Learning Programs and Organizations

The Baker-Polito Administration last week announced the establishment of summer learning opportunities and the availability of more than $70 million in funding for school districts and community organizations to offer summer learning and recreational programs that will help students, who have been impacted by a year of remote and hybrid learning, grow academically and socially.

Students at every grade level will have opportunities to take part in a mix of academic and recreational programs offered at schools, after-school providers, community colleges and recreation sites. Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Education Secretary James Peyser and Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley made the announcement while visiting Galvin Middle School in Canton, where school officials are planning to boost learning opportunities for students this summer.

All middle schools in the Commonwealth were required to return to full time in-person learning this week. Elementary schools returned on April 5, and high schools will be required to return by May 17.

“Our administration has long maintained that children are best served academically, socially and emotionally when learning in-person and in the classroom,” said Governor Baker. “After a challenging school year for students, teachers and staff, the focus must now shift to recouping any learning loss experienced remotely to ensure that our children are equipped for success in the classroom and beyond.”

•Acceleration Academies

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will help school districts launch Acceleration Academies, which allow students to learn and build skills working intensively on one subject in small, hands-on learning environments with excellent teachers.

Students benefit from small class sizes, longer uninterrupted instructional blocks, individualized attention, project-based lessons and teacher flexibility for learning time. The Baker-Polito Administration will commit up to $25 million in grants for districts to operate Acceleration Academies using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Response (ESSER) discretionary funds. This will be a multi-year program that the Department anticipates will impact more than 50,000 students statewide each year.

Acceleration Academies will include:

*Early Literacy Academies for incoming kindergarteners, rising first and second graders; and

*Math Acceleration Academies for rising third and fourth graders, as well as eighth and 10th graders.

•Summer School Matching Grants

DESE will also offer summer school matching grants, up to $15 million in federal ESSER funds, for school districts to offer four-to-six-week, in-person programs with a mix of in-person academic and recreational activities. The Department is making these funds available to schools to enhance or expand their existing summer programs while also including mental health services and additional supports for students with individualized education plans and English learners.

•Summer Acceleration to College

High school graduates from the Class of 2021 will be able to participate in Summer Acceleration to College, a new program that provides recent graduates access to credit-bearing math and English courses at no cost to them as they prepare for college.

Fourteen community colleges in the Commonwealth will participate in this program, expected to be funded at $1 million.

•Summer Step Up

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) will support school districts to offer Summer Step Up, a new program aimed at giving extra support to young learners entering school in the fall.

Young children, who have had limited in-school experiences due to the pandemic, will be able to take part in summer learning opportunities developed in conjunction with community partners to help prepare them for school. With pre-school and kindergarten enrollments down over the last year, Summer Step Up is an opportunity to engage young learners and accelerate learning while smoothing the transition to in-person learning for young children to provide them a stronger foundation for academic success. The Administration will commit up to $10 million to this program.

In addition to these programs, the Baker-Polito Administration will:

•Provide early literacy tutoring grants this summer and during the 2021-22 school year, funded at $10 million.

•Launch a new K-8 Math Acceleration program to help teachers increase student learning over the summer and throughout the school year.

•Expand the Biggest Winner Math Challenge – which was piloted last summer – to serve approximately 2,500 gifted math students, costing approximately $2.5 million.

•Offer college courses over the summer for rising high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in approved Early College programs, costing approximately $1 million.

•Help camps and community organizations expand educational enrichment as part of their existing summer programs by making at least $3 million in funding available.

To learn more, please contact [email protected].

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