Summer Slide Series: Summer Learning Blitz

by Valerie Truesdale

Summer vacation is eagerly anticipated by students and teachers – eight weeks of out-of-school time. But it harbors a built-in risk that we call the Summer Slide: Academic ground gained during the school year can be lost without targeted summer learning.

But it doesn’t have to happen that way. All of us in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools know that learning can occur everywhere, all the time, with access to learning resources.  Technology tools allow us to engage students, encouraging them to be curious whenever they want. CMS' Digital Learning Conversion initiative is designed to increase student engagement during school and to extend learning beyond school.

In 2015, CMS launched two initiatives specifically targeting summer learning loss: Summer Learning Blitz and OneAccess.

Summer Learning Blitz is a concentrated program to encourage students to continue learning using digital learning tools and to teach summer care providers, faith partners and parents how to support students in utilizing and accessing those tools. Supplementary learning tools such as DreamBox math, Reading A to Z (RAZ Kids), Compass Learning, and Discovery Ed are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. The district’s Technology Services and Engagement departments train dozens of faith partners and summer care providers in how students can access digital tools and use the tools to extend and enrich learning. A student portal, easy to reach on the district’s homepage, outlines numerous digital learning resources available to students beyond the school day. Parent communications in April and May remind parents how to access digital tools wherever there is Internet. Throughout the summer, students log learning sessions on digital tools. Prizes are awarded at the end of the summer to students who log the most usage. Last summer, more than 90 percent of our schools participated in the Summer Learning Blitz.

In fall 2015, we launched OneAccess, a collaboration between CMS and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library that allows students to use their school identification numbers to access all library resources -- digital and print – anytime, anywhere. Thus far, more than 110,000 students have logged into OneAccess to use the vast collection of resources at 22 public libraries.

These CMS summer programs offer a great opportunity for our partners to support our students during out-of-school time. The initiatives also make learning resources available to our 147,000 children everywhere, all the time – reducing Summer Slide and turning summer into an extended learning experience.

Valerie Truesdale is the Chief Officer of Technology, Personalized Learning, Engagement for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.