The McGaw YMCA is one of six YMCAs nationally chosen to pilot the “YMCA Summer Learning Program” this summer to help close the achievement gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and those from middle-income families.
This summer, the McGaw YMCA is piloting a 6-week program, starting on June 18th, that will help address the achievement gap between lower and middle income families. Thanks to Principal Churchill Daniels and Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum and Operations Ellen Fogelberg, the program will run at Oakton School and will include 32 Oakton students who will be entering 1st or 2nd grade in the Fall.
Research shows that by the end of 5th grade, children from lower-income families can be as much as 2.5 – 3 years behind middle-income children in terms of their academic achievement, in particular in their reading levels. At least two thirds of this gap is caused by the long summer break. A typical middle-income child, with access to various enrichment activities over the summer and with a family that has the opportunity to spend time on reading, will advance about one month in reading level. But the economically disadvantaged child falls back about two months in reading level over the same period. This is particularly alarming given that almost 20 percent of students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade will not graduate from high school on time.* Early intervention is crucial.
Bill Geiger, President and CEO of the McGaw YMCA, called the Summer Learning Program “a key element of our commitment as a YMCA to addressing critical community needs, in this case, the achievement gap and early learning. This program is a true collaboration among families, teachers, volunteers, School District 65 and the YMCA pulling together for our kids and making a positive impact on their success at school.”
The progrm uses the “four blocks literacy model” (guided reading, self-selected reading, writing, and phonics) first piloted by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. Certified teachers will lead 2.5 hours per day of direct literacy work, followed by 4.5 hours of enrichment to give the children experiences they would not otherwise have, such as swimming lessons, health education, art and music lessons, science lessons, and personal development. The program will include pre and post testing so that we can measure progress at the end of the six weeks. There is no cost to the families to participate, but they are involved in the work by supporting their children at home, such as by committing to reading to their children every day. The pilot is funded by a grant from the YMCA of the USA.
Patty Reece, a teacher of 34 years’ experience, 14 of them with D65, is now retired but is volunteering with the program. She commented: ” What a great opportunity for District 65 children! I’m looking forward to assisting with keeping the children engaged in structured learning activities. It’s exciting for the children and the community. It’s wonderful that the McGaw YMCA was chosen as one of six Ys across the nation to pilot the highly successful program from Charlotte, NC. Their data was significant with outstanding results. Let’s do it here! Let’s read!”
Because of the importance of the issue of summer learning loss, the Y will be also implementing the program at its Foster Reading Center this summer. Although not part of the official pilot, the same curriculum model will be used, with certified teachers, staff and volunteers working together to support a further 16 children over the summer.
*Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S., (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72(4), 167–180.