Eau Claire Area School District, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Challenge: Children with special needs, English learners and lower socio-economic students were suffering learning losses when school was out for summer. “The goal of the program is to make summer look as similar to the school year as possible regarding supports for students,” says Jim Schmitt, executive director of teaching and learning.
Initiative: The summer school program provides more opportunities for students to be engaged in high- quality learning throughout the summer months and to mitigate school-year learning losses. Breakfast, lunch and transportation are provided for free, as are the courses, which range from athletics and arts to accounting, journalism, dental assistance and residential construction. More than 25 community partners participate.
Impact: There were 5,870 students enrolled in 2017, which was nearly a 20 percent increase over 2016 and equal to nearly 40 percent of the district population. “Offering diverse programs with more than 25 community partners for students from ages 4 to 21 has created a powerful collaboration that exists in very few communities in our nation,” says Schmitt.
Advice: This initiative requires intense year-round collaboration with community partners and district staff. Administrators need to meet often with a variety of stakeholders to improve quality and to remove barriers.