In 2017 the Boston Public Schools officially adopted the Boston Summer Learning Project as its flagship summer school offering, rebranding it to the Boston Summer Learning Academies (SLA), institutionalizing a demonstration project as a citywide approach to summer learning. Supported by the Boston Opportunity Agenda, the SLA aims to reverse summer learning loss; improve the skills associated with school, college and career success; and deepen school-community partnerships.
Powered by $1.4 million from BPS and another $700K in private funds raised by nonprofit partner Boston After School & Beyond (BASB), the 2017 Summer Learning Academies involved 31 sites and collectively reached 2,307 high- need Boston students in grades K-12. This marks substantial growth from the summer of 2016 when 1,166 students were served. By offering a common measurement platform to 101 additional summer sites, the broader network—coined the 5th Quarter of Learning— reached 11,334 Boston youth in 2017.
Co-managed by BPS and BASB, the SLA serves high-need students who are unlikely to access quality summer programming on their own. Across SLA sites, certified academic teachers and enrichment staff co-develop and co-deliver academic and enrichment programming to prepare students for success in the next grade level. The SLA sets standards with common goals and shared evaluation, while allowing flexibility in program approach. All of these opportunities allow students to apply content knowledge in hands-on exciting ways, empowering students to become life-long learners who are equipped for success in school, work and life.
All 5th Quarter partners implement common measures, including teacher surveys, student input and third-party observations to evaluate programs. Representatives from each site gather year round to discuss best practices identified through shared data to improve their programs for the ensuing summer. This data-driven approach is at the forefront of innovation in youth development and summer learning nationally.