Study Highlights Best Practices In Summer Enrichment Programs

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Read coverage of this report in The Recorder.

Second of three-part summer enrichment series with focus on high-need students

BOSTON – The second of a three-part Pioneer Institute series of studies on summer enrichment programs with a particular focus on opportunities for disadvantaged students highlights best practices in the field by profiling a range of summer programs.

“Learning loss during the summer is a serious issue, especially for low-income students,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios.  “Summer enrichment programs can reverse that trend, and this paper highlights some of the best.”

Expanding Educational Opportunities: Best Practices in U.S. Summer Enrichment Programs” highlights a range of these programs.  Some are at independent schools like Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Connecticut’s Choate Rosemary Hall.  Others, like Boston’s Steppingstone Academy and programs sponsored by Connecticut-based Horizons National are run by non-profits.

Several don’t offer academic credit.  Phillips Exeter Summer School Director Elena Gosalves-Blanco says “Summer enrichment is for the love of learning.”  The Clarence T.C. Ching Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities (PUEO) program at the Punahou School in Honolulu is among those that do grant credit.

Students at the Malcolm Coates Prep@Pingree program at the Pingree School in South Hamilton, MA, PUEO, Boston’s Steppingstone Academy and programs sponsored by Horizons National pay little or nothing to attend.  Costs for boarding students at Phillips Exeter, Choate Rosemary Hall and the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Western Massachusetts can reach upwards of $8,000 for a five-week program, but all offer financial aid.

Horizons National conducts pre- and post-program testing to measure academic growth.  The goal is six weeks of growth, but Chief Operating Officer Jose Oromi says actual growth has been in the 8-to-10-week range.

Most programs ask students to commit to one summer at a time, but Horizons National’s program goes from the summer before kindergarten through the summer before senior year in high school.   PUEO stretches from the summer before sixth grade until the summer before senior year, and Steppingstone Academy covers the summers before students enter fifth and sixth grades.

Authors William Donovan and Lauren Corvese include several findings.  They urge summer enrichment programs to partner with entities that help place disadvantaged children in educational programs to help the schools and non-profits recruit students.

They also recommend that programs run by schools use academic-year faculty.  Pingree summer courses are taught by Pingree and public school teachers, as well as “Prep@Pingree” alumni.  About three-quarters of the Choate Rosemary Hall program is taught by school faculty, and most summer classes at California’s Flintridge Preparatory School are taught by Flintridge faculty.

Donovan and Corvese also urge summer enrichment programs to extend relationships and support students during the academic year.  Prep@Pingree, PUEO and Steppingstone Academy currently do so.

Finally, the authors point out that a diverse community is one of the most impactful benefits of summer enrichment programs.  Phillips Exeter’s summer school attracts students from 40 states and 50 countries, while 60 percent of summer students at Northfield Mount Hermon are international.

William Donovan is a former staff writer at the Providence Journal and has taught business journalism at the graduate programs at Boston University and Northeastern University.  Lauren Corvese is Pioneer’s research assistant and development coordinator.  She is a summa cum laude Northeastern graduate.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Watch: Pioneer Research Assistant Lauren Corvese discusses Pioneer’s series on the benefits of summer enrichment programs for continuity of learning.

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