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House Democrats prepare for vote condemning Trump's attacks on progressive freshman women. Also on our Tuesday rundown: Immigrants’ rights groups slam asylum rules that take effect today. Plus, summer meals aim to prevent kids' academic slide.

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Summer Learning Gives Kids 'Confidence Boost' for Next School Year

Summer learning could help close the achievement gap for low-income students who typically don't have access to summer programs. (Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas)
Summer learning could help close the achievement gap for low-income students who typically don't have access to summer programs. (Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas)
July 9, 2019

SEATTLE — It's Summer Learning Week, a celebration of the importance of education while school is out.

Programs across Washington state are dedicated to helping kids avoid the effects of summer learning loss, which can leave some students behind at the beginning of the next academic year.

Erica Mullen is executive director of the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, which engages kids through writing and storytelling workshops. She said summer programs have smaller student-to-faculty ratios, providing kids with attention they may not get during the school year.

"For many young people, it's the first time they got to be super successful,” Mullen said. “So they go in with that confidence of having had a lot of support in the summer, and that confidence, plus skills plus that social-emotional piece, I think really gives young people a boost when they get back to school."

Mullen said the social-emotional component – giving kids the skills to build relationships and better understand themselves – is a key part of her organization's mission. She said summer learning opportunities that target low-income children also are important for closing the achievement gap, which is caused in part by cumulative summer learning loss that can leave kids up to two full grades behind by the time they enter fifth grade.

Margarita Alaman is program director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers for the school district serving Pasco and the surrounding area.

Summer programs in the district serve roughly 1,000 students, and they do more than just stem summer learning loss.

According to Alaman, the programs provide art and cooking classes and curriculum on such topics as peer pressure and bullying. The district also builds relationships with parents and caregivers on family nights.

"That really helps the parents. Like, 'OK, so the hard work we are doing is being shown.' And we give parents tips and tools – ‘this is what we're doing in program, and this is what works for us helping the student,’" Alaman explained. “And so, the parents take that home as well. That way we're working together and not just siloed."

While opportunities exist across across the state and the rest of the country, there still is demand for more summer programming.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, 51% of families nationwide not participating in a summer program said they would if one were available to them.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA