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Summer Program at Title I Schools Hailed as Model

May 5, 2005
East Silver Spring Elementary School is one of five schools across the nation profiled in a new report from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released this month. The publication, Summer Learning Opportunities in High-Poverty Schools, showcases effective academic summer programs in schools with a significant level of poverty and a diverse student body.

Extended Learning Opportunities-Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO-SAIL) at East Silver Spring Elementary School and other Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Title I schools aligns with the school system's comprehensive early education reform initiative. The strategic decision to direct school system resources to the youngest learners is grounded in the belief that every child can succeed if given a strong start. Part of the plan to close the opportunity gap for students facing the challenges of poverty and limited English includes taking advantage of the summer months to provide a rich academic program that reinforces what children know and gives a head start on learning for the upcoming year.

Program evaluations conducted by the MCPS Office of Shared Accountability showed increased levels of achievement in math and reading for the majority of participating students. Several factors are cited in the CCSSO report as contributing to the success of ELO-SAIL, including alignment of the summer curriculum with the school-year curricula, comprehensive staff development, high expectations for the students, representation of stakeholders in the planning process, and a public awareness campaign conducted at both the school and district levels.

Like all of the school programs featured in the report, the ELO-SAIL program at East Silver Spring Elementary School and other participating schools was developed with extensive planning and organization at the school district level and can serve as a model for the implementation of similar programs in other school districts.

Approximately 5,000 students participating in ELO-SAIL attend a four hour academic program each weekday morning over a period of four weeks. Participants, who include students entering kindergarten through fifth grade in the upcoming school year, are provided with bus transportation, meals, and optional recreational opportunities. Participation is free-of-charge and voluntary, but families are encouraged to enroll their children.

Principals and assistant principals in participating schools play an important role in supervising ELO-SAIL. The program is staffed by experienced teachers who participate in special training on using the summer curriculum. Teachers are assisted by a cadre of volunteers who are trained to tutor students in reading, writing, and mathematics.

East Silver Spring is one of 19 Title I elementary schools in MCPS that will host ELO-SAIL as the program begins its fourth year in summer 2005.

Copies of the report are available by contacting Ms. Ayeola Fortune, project director, at ayeola@ccsso.org or 202-326-8680.

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