Summer Learning in Full Swing

For Immediate Release | July 21, 2016

Contact: Maggie Meyers at (724) 263-9826

Summer Learning in Full Swing at Washington’s Charter Public Schools

SEATTLE, WA – Washington’s charter public schools know the summer months present a unique opportunity to get creative about closing the achievement gap. Decades of research confirm the phenomenon known as the “summer slide,” during which students across the board lose about two months of learning in math. Low-income students also lose more than two months of learning in reading, while non-low-income students make slight gains in reading. Washington’s charter public schools share a deep commitment to closing historic opportunity gaps through a high-quality, personalized education that translates to successful outcomes for each and every student. During the summer months, Washington’s charter public schools keep the fires of learning burning through sports, the arts, college visits, extra instructional materials and workshops, and one-one-one tutoring.

Extended school days and an extended school year for Washington’s charter public schools help students achieve dramatic learning gains that keep them on a college track. When school does let out for summer break, Washington’s charter public schools strive to preserve and extend students’ gains and keep families connected to the school community.  

We’re excited to share some highlights of summer learning opportunities offered across Washington’s charter public schools:

  • A group of students from Excel Public Charter School (Kent) and Rainier Prep (Highline) are benefiting from a three-week Summer Bridge program led by Seneca Family of Agencies, a partnering organization. The students are coming together for learning, socializing and adventures – including two science-themed field trips to the Museum of Flight and the Pacific Science Center, and an end-of-program celebration picnic.
  • Summer program leads at SOAR Academy (Tacoma) are available to families who are looking for camps or activities for their children but may need help locating services or scholarships that enable them to attend. So far this summer, SOAR has helped students get plugged into basketball camp and other programs through the Department of Parks and Recreation. In August, SOAR is holding a family bowling party and a family picnic to bring together their K-2 families and reunite kids who may be missing each other over the summer.
  • At Spokane International Academy, instructional assistants are dedicating time to help first and second grade students to strengthen and maintain reading skills they gained during the previous school year, while summer learning packets are keeping sixth and seventh grade students engaged with English, math, science and Spanish.
  • Summer of Summit: For the last two weeks of June, teachers at Summit Sierra (Seattle) and Summit Olympus (Tacoma) led additional workshops to help students both catch up and get ahead. Benefiting from the additional small group and 1:1 support, many students utilized this time to successfully pass academic classes.
  • Green Dot Destiny Charter Middle School’s (Tacoma) Summer Bridge program offers an opportunity for students to come to school the week before the “official” first day of school to build relationships with students and staff members and to learn what it means to be a Destiny student. During this time, the Destiny community solidifies its college-going culture with its first field trip to local colleges and universities.
  • At PRIDE Prep (Spokane), students completed portfolio defenses at the end of June, and all created summer action plans with personal and academic goals to meet by Fall 2016. Goals ranged from reading novels from an unfamiliar genre to identifying three community problems they want to be part of solving. One PRIDE student is launching a summer camp for girls. Another is starring as the main actress in a local summer theater production. Many more PRIDE students are going to STEM camps, sports camps or leadership camps to meet their personal and academic goals.

Beyond supporting students’ summer learning and growth, Washington’s charter public schools are also working on a pilot program to engage parents in becoming school and community leaders.

A steering committee made up of Rainier Prep and Summit Sierra parents began gathering this summer in King County, developing a parent engagement pilot program that will launch at the two school sites this fall with the help of WA Charters and the Somali Parent Education Board. Parents on the steering committee are working to identify valued aspects of leadership, engagement and school culture and develop a curriculum tailored to meet the needs of parents. Based on parent and school feedback and success of the pilot, WA Charters plans to expand the program to reach parents at other school sites in the near future.

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. More than 67 percent of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide. Two-thirds of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. At four of Washington’s charter public schools, this number exceeds 70 percent.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments. According to mid-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.