Tennessee’s largest school district will almost double the size of a popular summer program in its second year, hoping to build on last year’s improvement in student performance.
The Summer Learning Academy, a voluntary program of Shelby County Schools, will be open to 10,000 students in almost 50 sites across the city, adding middle and high school students and rising kindergartners.
Elementary students who participated last year improved their reading and math skills in the six-week program. In a national test given before and after the program, student reading skills improved dramatically, and math skills showed almost five months of growth.
In middle and high school, students will be able to participate in robotics, music production, dance, creative writing, visual arts, and sports, the district announced Tuesday.
The program is free and separate from summer school, which is required for students who have failed courses. Last year, in addition to reading, math, and science, students participated in weekly field trips, music, and arts. Teachers said smaller classroom sizes and the absence of state tests were key to the program’s success.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson believes the results will help the district improve learning for students of color, especially those from low-income families. The district is monitoring the program, and will possibly move toward a year-round calendar if student performance continues to improve.
Shelby County Schools marketed the program outside of the district and was able to recruit about 150 students from private schools and the county’s municipal districts, according to Joris Ray, assistant superintendent for academic operations.
Online applications for all students will open March 19.
For students in K-8, the program runs from June 11 to July 14. High school students also start June 11 but their program ends July 7. Visit here for registration details.