Philly schools announce plans for summer learning

Malika Savoy-Brooks, chief of academic support for the School District of Philadelphia and Superintendent William Hite discuss the summer learning programs Thursday (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — Administrators at the School District of Philadelphia announced plans Thursday for the district’s 2021 summer learning program for students entering pre-K through grade 12.

Through partnerships with the city and local organizations, the summer learning will combine project-based learning with extracurricular programming. Beginning the week of June 28, the district will offer students enrich learning over the course of five to six weeks.

The programs will take place in-person at 24 schools throughout the city for students entering grades 1-12 and based on registration, can open up to 39 total schools.

“Providing summer programs for our students has proven to play a huge role in narrowing academic achievement gaps and helping students reach and maintain grade level performance in reading and math,” said school district Superintendent William Hite during a news conference at the district’s administrative building.

“Even though not all students have been back into the school buildings, learning has and will continue to take place. We want to keep that momentum going forward and create a bridge from what students have learned to what they will be learning next year.”

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will be offered a virtual transition program to provide instruction for the earliest learners and help families and children feel confident about starting school in the fall.

The Extended School year program will serve students who require special education support and services to maintain progress and meet their most critical goals, as determined by the student’s IEP.

English learners, especially students who are newcomers and with limited formal education, will have English language development programs.

The curriculum for students in grades 1-8 will focus on project-based learning, extracurricular programming in music, art, physical education, and athletics, foundational English language arts and math skills necessary for the next grade, and social emotional learning.

Out-of-School Time, which is funded by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Children and Families, will provide the extra-curricular activities for students in grades 1-8.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students can also participate in electives focused on career awareness and STEM.

“We’ve been very intentional about creating exciting programming that aligns our academic standard to engage our students through partnerships with the city of Philadelphia, local organizations, and universities,” said chief of academic support for the School District of Philadelphia Malika Savoy-Brooks.

“These opportunities will combine project based learning with extracurricular programming, career awareness, career exposure, and social emotional learning in order to provide a fun and safe environment for students to continue learning during the summer.”

The curriculum for ninth- and 10th-graders, will include foundational English language arts and math skills necessary for the next grade, career awareness, financial literacy, fitness, transition support, and social emotional learning.

High school students entering grades 10-12 and current seniors who have failed a course during the 2020-2021 school year will have additional time to improve grades, gain knowledge of course content and skills, work toward proficiency, and earn credits they need to stay on track toward graduation through the Quarter 5 program.

Other summer options for students in those grades also include entrepreneurship focused programming, University of Pennsylvania Rising Senior Summer Academy, and paid internships and work experiences.

The Summer Bridge program, an initiative that allows students to earn college credits before taking their first high school class, has also been expanded to include ninth and tenth graders.

The district has also expanded its career immersion program so students can gain deeper insight into a specific major or career through paid work experience and advice from experts in the field.

Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa said that the city is proud to work with the district for summer learning.

“We’re excited to make summer 2021 a time of learning and fun,” Figueroa said. “Summer programs are a vital part of our city’s recovery from the disruptions and isolation created by the pandemic. We look forward to a summer of opportunity and growth for every young person.”

For more information on the summer learning program, visit www.philasd.org/summer2021.

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared