While school is out for summer and students are having fun in the sun, but not engaging in educational activities, many run the risk of falling behind once they return to classrooms in the fall. On average, children lose approximately two months of learning from the previous school year during summer months, and for low-income students, the loss is can be even greater. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers.
The Baltimore affiliate of Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Young Audiences of Maryland (YAMD), is combating summer learning loss, sometimes known as the “summer slide,” with its Summer Arts and Learning Academy (SALA), a free, full-day, five-week program for elementary students enrolled in Title 1 Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). The program, operated by YAMD in partnership with BCPS, gives students the opportunity to explore mathematics and literacy in an arts-integrated environment that keeps them learning and engaged.
SALA pairs teaching artists with traditional teachers to integrate creativity into subjects like math and reading. Students may perform a dance to recall math formulas or illustrate the rising action in a story they are reading. The approach makes learning fun and active for students, producing results.
The success of the Summer Arts and Learning Academy has received media coverage from several outlets, including CBS Baltimore, WYPR, and PBS, since the launch of this summer’s program on July 9.
Stacie Sanders Evans, President and CEO of YAMD, discussed the program in an interview with WYPR's On the Record. Pre- and post- program testing suggests that SALA participants are going back to school better prepared, Evans explained. “[For] the majority of students who are in the program, we have seen incredible gains in their math skills and their literacy skills,” she said.
At the same time, students develop socially and emotionally through the program while expanding their creative process. Teaching artist Rashida Forman-Bey told CBS Baltimore that she loves witnessing the awakening of creative skills in young people. “It’s a great way to help heal our community, through the arts. So we should have the arts in every school all over Baltimore City and all over the world," Forman-Bey said.
Though summer slide can impact all students, Evans points to unequal access to summer learning opportunities as a “key driver of the achievement gap,” in an interview on PBS’s State Circle. “If we can mitigate summer learning loss, we can even the playing field.”
To learn more about the Summer Arts and Learning Academy and Young Audiences of Maryland’s great work in Baltimore, visit their website at: http://www.yamd.org