Earlier this year, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the addition of the Alabama Summer Achievement Program (ASAP) to her already thriving “Strong Start, Strong Finish” initiative in effort to prevent the backsliding that often occurs over the summer for children in low-income families.
Children can fall behind an average of two months in reading and math during the summer, in what is known as the summer slide, and these learning losses are cumulative. Summer learning programs are a proven, critical tool for reducing the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Children with access to books over the summer see significantly higher gains in reading abilities from spring to fall. The program will ensure that students who are reading below grade proficiency in grades 1-3 will have a chance to catch up over the summer through a six week program.
On Thursday, Ivey, in conjunction with Montgomery Public Schools, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, the Alabama State Department of Education, and the Alabama Reading Initiative announced the pilot of ASAP at four local Montgomery public schools: Dannelly, Fitzpatrick, Highland Avenue, and E.D. Nixon elementary schools.
Under the direction of the Alabama Reading Initiative and with support from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, ASAP will provide students entering kindergarten through fourth grade more than seventy hours of reading and literacy instruction over six weeks.
“Too many children lose ground academically over the summer months. Without access to the enriching activities available to more affluent peers, research shows that children from low-income families lose as much as three months of reading comprehension skills over the summer,” Ivey said. “Studies show that summer learning programs can produce statistically significant gains in reading performance.”
This highly structured research-based initiative will be taught by qualified, effective pre-K and elementary teachers, reading coaches and literacy specialists. The program will run from June 11 through July 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost, and bus transportation will also be provided to children attending their zoned school location. Each school will also be served by a principal, site coordinator, nurse, secretary, custodian and security guard.
Teachers will provide developmentally appropriate, project based learning experiences to enhance children’s early literacy abilities and foster a love of learning. Teachers, coaches, and specialists will also receive quality professional development and onsite support, including training in social-emotional learning. Additionally, children will be actively engaged in developmentally appropriate:
- Whole group literacy instruction: oral language, vocabulary, listening comprehension
- Small group reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency
- Independent reading practice: reading comprehension, reading/writing workshop
- Handwriting and spelling instruction
- One-on-one reading intervention: differentiated reading instruction
Support for the program
Governor Ivey strongly supported funding increases for the Alabama Reading Initiative, State Department of Education, and Department of Early Childhood Education in the 2019 Education Trust Fund budget. The 2019 Education Trust Fund is the largest investment in education in a decade.
“Research shows that children who participate in Alabama First Class Pre-K are better prepared for school,” Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross said. “We are proud to collaborate with Montgomery Public Schools and the State Department of Education to provide the nation’s highest quality pre-K experience to children who have not had this opportunity, working together to ensure more of Montgomery’s children are school ready.”
Children who are eligible to attend Kindergarten in the 2018-2019 school year, whether they did or did not attend pre-K or Head Start, are encouraged to apply for First Class Pre-K with ASAP this summer.
“Governor Ivey’s ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ education initiative is a smart, comprehensive approach to improving student achievement. A key component of that initiative, the Alabama Summer Achievement Program, addresses some very real circumstances that negatively impact some of our most vulnerable communities,” added State Superintendent Eric Mackey. “Much needed summertime learning opportunities are a ‘win-win’ for all involved. We should take advantage of any opportunity to help even the playing field, and give our students the support they need to succeed academically.”
Registration for ASAP is now online. Participation is limited. Those interested sign-up here “ASAP.”