Quality summer and afterschool programs help kids stay on track and improve during out-of-school time. All children benefit from these programs, but primarily middle- and upper-income families can afford them.
Disparities in academic achievement seen between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers are often referred to as the achievement gap. Two-thirds of the achievement gap in 9th grade is due to lost learning opportunities during the summer, demonstrating the importance of highquality summer programs. For example, low-income students lose 2 months of reading achievement over the summer and are more likely to regress than their middle- and upper-income peers. 66% of teachers say it takes at least 3-4 weeks to re-teach the previous year’s skills at the beginning of a new school year, with 24% stating it takes 5-6 weeks.
High-quality summer learning opportunities can produce academic gains. Programs with high attendance rates, smaller class sizes, high-quality instruction and strong alignment with school-year curriculum have proven to be particularly effective. For example, 82% of 3rd-9th graders in one summer program in California showed significant gains in reading comprehension, phonics and vocabulary skills, according to tests administered at the beginning and end of the program.
1.7 million school-age children in California spend an average of 8 hours per week unsupervised after school. Children who do not attend afterschool programs are almost 3 times more likely to skip classes and use marijuana or other drugs, while students who participate in high-quality afterschool programs can significantly improve their grades and test scores, and have better behavior records compared to those who do not participate.
California should promote the value of expanded learning time as essential to improving student outcomes and extend proven afterschool and summer program opportunities to all children. Additionally, state and local communities should foster innovation that supports more intentional linkages between the traditional school day and expanded learning time.
In 2013, the governor signed Assembly Bill 547 (Salas), which elevates career development programming within the context of the 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens Program. This gives students the opportunity to explore various career interests and learn about what skills are needed in different industries
The California Department of Education launched a multi-year effort to implement an Expanded Learning Time strategic plan which engages the field and is focused on 5 strategic initiative areas, including (1) system of support, (2) grant administration and policy, (3) communication/information systems, (4) expanded learning/K-12 integration and (5) data and evaluation.
Pilot summer learning programs in Concord, Elk Grove, Fresno, Gilroy, Glenn County, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Ana, San Jose, Orland and Whittier boost student achievement through fun, experiential and relevant programming that includes a mix of academics and enrichment and keeps children physically active and well fed throughout the summer.