Having an impact on: Summer Learning, Middle Grade Math
When one enters the John Adams Middle School (Adams) cafeteria after school dismissal, it is impossible not to notice the energy in the room. Here a sizeable student body has just left their classrooms and joined the After Hours Program zone. First they receive a meal and then get dispersed into a variety of clubs, classes, or sports activities. Over a dozen activities are available in the afterschool program. Clusters of students are pulled out for 20-to-30-minute mandatory tutoring sessions twice a week, and also get health education once a week. After working through their respective activities, students earn time to play Minecraft, a video game that integrates math skills, creativity, and imagination.
In addition to the After Hours program, Adams also offers a four-week Summer Enrichment Program with a similar model. The summer program provides math and reading enrichment to help students catch up or surpass grade levels. Incoming fifth graders and exiting eighth graders also get support to transition into middle or high school. The afterschool and summer programs are effectively and competently coordinated by Paul Newcomb, a teacher at the school, with the help of a small staff including a dozen students who graduated from the program.
Adams is located in a low-income neighborhood which also has serious crime activity. Within a one-mile radius, 258 reported crimes occurred between November 2014 and May 2015 alone. The school is also characterized by high student mobility (20.5% in 2014-15). Through the After Hours and Summer Enrichment Programs, Adams is providing students with a safe place to be during non-school hours. Participating students interact with caring adults and older teenagers who not only provide tutoring and other assistance but also act as role models.
To summarize, the student are well fed, and offered a variety of stimulating clubs and sports. The programs and tutoring are provided by caring adults and past students who may serve as mentors and motivators.
Purpose and Goals
The Summer Enrichment Program is intended to prevent summer learning loss and grade level performance for the students, while the After Hours programming extends academic support, physical activity, extra-curricular enrichment, and health education to the students along with a safe place after school with meals and snacks. The program also creates employment for a dozen or more past students who are in high school or college.
The After Hours and Summer Enrichment Programs serve Adams sixth, seventh, and eight graders. The summer program also enrolls fifth graders from feeder elementary schools. The student population at John Adams is 100% federal meal program eligible; about 20% are English Language Learners. Many of the students come from challenging neighborhoods and family backgrounds. The After Hours program is open to all students and has seen enrollment rise over the past seven years. In 2014-15, the program served 43% of the school’s students. The summer program is smaller: 100 students enrolled in 2015, but 83 actually attended.
Strategies Used to Achieve Goals
It is often a challenge for out-of-school-time programs to design activities that students find interesting while also providing academic enrichment. The After Hours and Summer Enrichment Program have been highly successful, using a variety of strategies to engage and support students.
Student clubs: A variety of clubs are available such as Design by Eye, Gem Dance Team, MESA, STEM, Minecraft, and Music. Students can choose any activity they please each day they attend.
Personalized computer-based learning: In both the After Hours and Student Enrichment Programs, students build their math and literacy skills on an online tutoring program called MobyMax. The tutoring is mandatory twice a week. Students also receive play time on a popular and engaging video game called Minecraft that integrates math skills.
Health and wellness activities: The program serves the students meals and snacks, leveraging resources available through CYFD and APS. Students also receive health and wellness program once a week. One example of an innovative activity is the STEM program, which involves a weekly visit to a neighborhood bike shop where students learn to build a bike.
Parent meetings: After Hours coordinator Paul Newcomb conducts parent meetings that are sponsored by Title I and are attended by as many as 200 school family members. The attendees receive information about specific topics helpful to navigating life challenges and supporting their students. These parent activities serve both students and families to help students be successful learners.
Strong leadership: John Adams’ After Hours and Summer Enrichment Programs have enjoyed the leadership, dedication, and energy exhibited by Paul Newcomb, a bilingual teacher and program coordinator who is also the coordinator of the After Hours and summer programs. Newcomb has worked hard to get grants and build partnerships for these programs, and can be credited with engaging students in the After Hours adventures.
How much do we do?
- After Hours
- The After Hours Program is offered four days a week for 2.25 hours (from 3:15-5:30 pm) from after Labor Day to mid-May.
- Over 300 students attended in 2015-16, 100% from low-income families.
- Summer Enrichment
- The Summer Enrichment Program is offered five days a week for four hours a day during four weeks—a total of 80 hours in the month of June.
- 100 students registered in 2015, and of these, 83 attended.
How well do we do it?
- After Hours
- 43% of John Adams’ students participated in the After Hours Program in 2014-15.
- 95% of After Hours students agreed there were good activities; 90% of students felt that at least one adult in the program cared about them; and 99% of parents felt that the program was doing a good job.
- Summer Enrichment
- 24% of the program attendees were incoming fifth graders.
- 97% of students said they enjoyed the program; 86% of parents said they would re-enroll their students next year should it be offered.
Is anyone better off?
- After Hours
- Attendees achieved an average of 1.7 grade levels of growth in reading and 1.24 grade levels in math, based on pre- and post-assessments using a personalized learning program called MobyMax.
- 11 current and former John Adams students are employed in the program.
- Summer Enrichment
- Students at all grade levels made gains in reading and math, based on pre- and post-assessments using MobyMax.
Data are presented using a Results-Based Accountability framework. See http://resultsleadership.org.
Phone: (505) 831-0400
To be selected for a Bright Spot, a program had to provide evidence that children or adults touched by their interventions were better off after participating. While the strength of evidence varied from program to program, all Bright Spots were able to show – at minimum – a correlation between participation in their program and positive outcomes. Those with stronger evidence provided pre- and post-data on participants in comparison to a similar group that did not participate.