Big reading gains and no learning loss for Springboard students

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Connie Langland

​Last spring, Springboard Collaborative won a contract with the District by promising to replace learning loss over the summer with reading gains for some of its lowest-performing students.

The program included five weeks of instruction for struggling readers in grades K-3 in four District schools and workshops to train parents to teach reading at home.

The effort apparently paid off. Overall, 642 students in eight schools (four charter schools also participated) gained 3.3 months in reading skills, according to Alejandro Gac-Artigas, Springboard’s CEO. He cited research showing that low-income students experience a three-month learning loss over the summer months, not progress.

Achievement was measured using the Developmental Reading Assessment, a standardized test, administered by teachers in the participating schools.

Students participating in the program for a second summer showed 9.7 months of progress over a one-year period, which Gac-Artigas called “just about the expectation of middle-income students.”

In addition, the schools reported parent attendance at the workshops at more than 90 percent, a level that defied expectations, according to Gac-Artigas. Parent attendance at information sessions in June had been just 7 percent in District schools and 52 percent in the charter schools. “It was a remarkable transformation,” he said.

The program is for students who are not proficient in reading. In the four charter schools, summer programs reached about three-quarters of the children challenged in reading in grades K-3. Springboard does not have information about the percentage of at-risk readers to participate in the District schools.

Springboard also ran a pilot program last summer teaching pre-reading skills to incoming kindergartners with no preschool background. After five weeks, two-thirds of the children were deemed to have suitable skills, compared with 13 percent at the start of the program.

To view the findings, go to Springboard’s website.

Springboard is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit enterprise funded by grants, charitable contributions, and fees from participating schools.

This report is part of an ongoing series of stories on expanded learning time. The stories are the result of a multi-city reporting project by Catalyst Chicago and its partners: EdNews Colorado, EdSource Today, GothamSchools and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.The collaborative effort was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which has made More and Better Learning Time a priority in its philanthropy.