For Immediate Release - March 21, 2011

Summer Literacy Instruction Efforts Touted for Student Learning

Out-of-school time programs and school districts partner to promote students' reading achievement

BOSTON (March 21, 2011) - Students who receive intensive literacy instruction over the summer are able to maintain knowledge over the critical break from school and in some cases make gains in reading proficiency, according to a new report released today. The study, commissioned by the Department of Early Education and Care, showed that a full 85 percent of children who participated in a model program avoided summer learning loss and arrived at school ready to learn.

The Department of Early Education and Care awarded a $250,000 grant to the United Way to support out-of-school time programs in partnering with local schools to promote students' literacy development and academic retention during summer 2010. The grant targeted programs serving districts designated as underperforming by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Twenty-one (21) programs from the following districts participated in the initiative: Boston , Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield and Holyoke. On average, 62 percent of students are not reading proficiently by third grade in these communities, compared to the statewide average of 38 percent.

"Out-of-school time programs have a key role to play in stemming learning loss that often occurs when children and youth do not have access to high-quality enrichment activities during the summer months," said EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins. "This initiative is a model of how summer programs, school districts, and community-based organizations can be an effective influence as a collective whole in delivering positive outcomes for our youngest citizens."

The first-time literacy collaboration between United Way, EEC, public schools, out-of-school time programs, and community-based organizations placed particular focus on joint professional development efforts such as educator coaching and modeling of best practices. Through a combination of workforce investment and direct services to students, this initiative provided high-quality literacy enrichment opportunities that continued children's school year learning during the critical summer months. The effort benefited 1,822 youth and 100 out-of-school time staff.

The evaluation also reports:

  • 72 percent of participating youth either maintained or increased their literacy skills during the summer months
  • At most sites, 100 percent of participating out-of-school program staff reported they gained proficiency in developing and delivering literacy activities.

"There's a clear role that out-of-school-time programs can play in helping children develop the skills they need to succeed in schools," said Michael K. Durkin, president of United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley. "By better aligning these programs with schools and creating more opportunities for literacy education, we can help close the achievement gap across the state."

EEC and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, United Way of Central Massachusetts and United Way of Pioneer Valley partnered with two community-based organizations - BOSTnet and WestMOST - and the Boston Public Schools Department of Extended Learning Time, Afterschool, and Services (DELTAS), to oversee the program sites, partner with school principals and superintendents, provide specialized training, purchase books and collect evaluation data.

For questions about the Out-of-School Literacy and Learning Partnership Initiative, contact:

EEC: Kathleen Hart - or 617-988-7819

United Way: Lisa Pickard - or 617-624-8124


Executive Summary PDF