All Hands Raised Partnership Update from CEO Dan Ryan: Summer Learning
Dear Friends –
Summer is fast approaching and most of my friends and family who have school-aged kids are readying themselves for the challenge of summer care that comes with being a working parent. While contemplating camps, ball fields, vacations and other activities is a lot of work, it is a place of privilege that pales in comparison to the stress faced by many of our community’s families who do not have the resources to access structured activities. For many of our students, school (and time spent with their teachers) is one of the few constants in their lives. And for these students, many of whom are students of color and students living in poverty, the achievement gaps widen significantly in the summer. In fact, according to the National Summer Learning Association, summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap.
Last summer one such student who was struggling was Veronica, who is currently finishing her freshman year at a PPS high school. She was “flagged” in the eighth grade as being at risk of dropping out. “Eighth grade was complete failure,” she says. She skipped school as much as possible, failed most of her classes, and got into numerous fights with teachers, students, and even friends. Yet there was a bright spot – she recognized that she needed a change. That change came when she signed up to participate in Open Meadow’s Step Up summer program that is a part of Ninth Grade Counts. Because of her summer experience, and the support she received from Step Up throughout her freshman year, she has turned things around. Her report card has all passing grades and she sees a change within herself. “Now, I spend more time with my family, I’m not holding in my feelings, and I have goals for my future.”
Veronica is one of more than 5,000 students in Multnomah County who have participated in Ninth Grade Counts since it was created in 2009. Partner programs are guided by a core commitment to using student-level data to focus on improving both credit attainment and attendance of participants in ninth grade. Ninth Grade Counts partners are working to align and improve practices making a positive impact for those students most at risk of dropping out.
Ninth Grade Counts is working. Students, like Veronica, who participate in a Ninth Grade Counts summer program have the chance to earn .5 high school credit and build relationships with peers and adults. Nine months later, NGC students are more likely to earn the expected six credits in their ninth grade year – a critical threshold that makes them four times more likely to graduate.
I know that many of you will be busy this summer with your family. Yet, I challenge you to do something for those kids who need us to help them stay on track and not fall behind. I hope that you will take a moment to explore the 2015 Ninth Grade Counts Guide to Summer Programs, which highlights the good work of our partners. Please consider donating to support the work of these programs (listed below) to ensure the academic success of all incoming ninth graders in this community. They truly are all of our kids.
P.S. Congratulations to the Class of 2015, which includes more than 4,000 graduates from our community’s high schools. Congratulations as well to the countless adults who helped them achieve this critical milestone and who will continue to help them plan and prepare for their next steps toward a career.