An alternative program to traditional summer school is proving quite successful in Indiana, raising academic proficiency.
All across the nation, school bells have rung to commence the start of summer break, or are just about to. But for some children, that also means summer school is looming. The need and effectiveness of these summer break programs have long been contentious to many, but one state seems to be getting it right. In Indiana, learning labs as summer school alternatives for students K-8 are proving successful.
The 74 reported this promising news, saying that the 5-week learning program that began last year to replace the Indianapolis school district’s summer school had proved to be a thriving endeavor. It was a joint effort concocted by The Mind Trust and the United Way of Central Indiana. Above all else, the learning labs have drastically increased student academic scores over the course of work.
Because of mass success, parents and teachers are eager to recommend students for the learning lab summer program. Furthermore, spots are filling up fast. And while last year, the school district had the option to either send students to these learning labs or keep them in traditional summer school classrooms, this year, all students will be sent to the alternative program.
When the learning lab was first opened in January of last year, it was a major effort to address the learning loss students suffered from during the pandemic. At its start, around 3,000 children were enrolled in the free, full-day summer school alternative. To accommodate everyone, they operated across 42 different sites including school buildings, churches, and some Boys and Girls Clubs.
This year, the learning labs are expanding and will accommodate around 5,000 students as predicted. Also, unlike many summer schools, the program is accommodating to working parents, as it runs from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. The program’s curricula was developed to address every core subject. Generally, students work on English and math during the morning and switch to enrichment activities in the afternoon. Keeping kids having fun this summer, students will attend a wide array of field trips and spend some time cooling off by the pool.
The results tell the story themselves. In English language arts, the average student’s score rose 12% from the start of summer school to the end. Even better, math scores rose an average of 17% over the course of the program last year. Before students began, the number of students who scored at least at a proficient level rose an average of 20% after completion. For math, proficiency rose 28%.
Despite all this good news, there is a dark cloud looming over the learning labs summer program. Unless the state decided to funnel more money towards the initiative, it may be ending soon. No more funding is secured as of now, but a spokesperson noted that leaders are in the early stages of negotiating a sustainability plan. Considering its vast success, however, it is likely to gain more support from state lawmakers.
It remains unclear exactly why and how the learning labs have been able to produce much better results for Indianapolis students, but educators aren’t going to complain about it. Some students may not see much if any gains from attending summer school programs. But in Indianapolis, learning labs are obviously working.