ELO News

Previewing the 115th Congress: What does it mean for afterschool?

posted Jan 10, 2017, 8:59 AM by Damon Cawley

It is difficult to predict exactly which policy issues will come to the forefront in the new Congress, but many in Washington expect a number of education policy issues to be addressed, including targeting college access and affordability issues through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Additionally, the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) actchild nutrition reauthorization, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) reauthorization may all see new life in the 115th Congress after failing to cross the finish line this year. All of these represent opportunities to strengthen existing support, or in some cases, build new support, for local afterschool and summer learning programs and the school and community partnerships that sustain them.



posted Dec 6, 2016, 7:22 AM by Damon Cawley

"...investing in education is investing in the economy. And right now, we absolutely need investment in afterschool and summer programs — especially targeting rural communities where working parents often travel over some distance to their jobs or piece together multiple jobs and are gone for longer hours. Afterschool and summer camp programs allow parents to work a full day while their children are safe and learning."



posted Nov 8, 2016, 11:09 AM by Damon Cawley

"The majority of future careers will require some STEM skills. Here in Vermont, we will see an 18% increase in STEM jobs in the next four years alone, with 87% of these jobs requiring postsecondary education & training. Research shows that early engagement and sustained opportunities throughout a child’s development will yield greater success in STEM fields. In sum, the STEM job sector is growing and building STEM skills now helps to benefit all in the future.

Afterschool, summer learning, and expanded learning programs are well-positioned to complement and supplement school-day learning with experiences outside of the classroom. These programs provide youth with the opportunity to explore STEM topics in a flexible, hands-on, inquiry-based environment. Kids can enjoy more freedom and time to dive deeper in STEM subjects that spark their interests."


Participation in Summer Learning Programs Yields Positive Outcomes

posted Oct 11, 2016, 10:01 AM by Damon Cawley   [ updated Oct 11, 2016, 10:02 AM ]

By Erin Murphy

A new report shows that high levels of participation in summer learning programs can provide positive benefits for low-income students’ math and language arts performance and social-emotional skills. Last week, The Wallace Foundation released Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youththe third and final report analyzing the outcomes of their National Summer Learning Project.

This report, conducted by the RAND Corporation, is part of a six-year study offering the first-ever assessment of the effectiveness of voluntary, no-cost summer learning programs on the academic achievement, social-emotional competencies, and behavior of low-income, urban, elementary students. In fall 2013, third grade students enrolled in one of five urban school districts—Boston, Dallas, Jacksonville (FL), Pittsburgh, or Rochester (NY)—were selected to participate in the study. Half of the students were invited to participate in summer programming while half were not, and data on academic performance, social emotional skills, behavior and attendance was collected on both groups through the end of seventh grade.

Key findings on summer learning programs:

  • Students who were “high-attenders”—those attending a summer program at least 20 days—saw near and long-term positive effects in math assessments throughout the study.
  • High-attenders saw near and long-term positive effects in language arts assessments after the second summer of programming.
  • High-attenders saw positive benefits for their social and emotional skills after the second summer of programming.
  • When programs focused on math or language arts, students saw lasting positive gains in these subjects. Students who received a minimum of 25 hours of math instruction or 34 hours in language arts instruction during the summer outperformed students who did not receive the same level of instruction in the relevant subject in fall assessments. The report also found that the positive effects lasted into the spring after the second summer.
  • Providing students an invitation to attend did not lead to substantial long-term benefits, because of high rates of non-participation and low-attendance rates.



posted Sep 27, 2016, 7:52 AM by Damon Cawley

Vermont currently has no dedicated state funding to ensure that after school and summer learning programs are available and accessible to all.

More than 21,000 Vermont K-12 youth are enrolled in after school, but 22,000+ are waiting for an available program.

Quality after school and summer learning programs keep kids safe & healthy, inspire learners, help working families, and support Vermont’s vision for education. Vermont has the lowest level of low-income children enrolled in after school in the entire nation. Help to zap all the gaps–the achievement gap, opportunity gap, geographic gap, and homework gap—by supporting a $2.5 million appropriation to the ELO Special Fund. 

The ELO Special Fund was passed in 2015 as part of Act 48, which included language establishing a state fund for ELOs. The purpose of the ELO Special Fund is to expand access to programs that serve preK-12 children and youth outside the school day on a regular basis, including before and after school, school vacation weeks, and summer.

An annual appropriation of $2.5 million would help to ensure that all high-need communities in Vermont get the support they need to make sure that children, youth, and families have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. 

Summer Learning vs. Summer Slide

posted Nov 24, 2015, 10:16 AM by Damon Cawley   [ updated Nov 24, 2015, 10:25 AM ]

When we compared the STAR reading scores from the spring to the scores from this fall, here is what we found:

  • Barnet had comparison data for 22 out of the 34 students who attended this summer.  Of the 22, 10 improved their reading level, 10 maintained their reading level, and 2 did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  • Danville had comparison data for 11 out of the 23 students who attended this summer.  Of the 11, 1 improved their reading level, 8 maintained their reading level, and 2 did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Peacham had comparison data for 8 out of 10 students who attended this summer.  Of the 8, one improved their reading level, 6 maintained their reading level, and one did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Walden had comparison data for 14 out of 16 students who attended this summer.  Of the 14, 6 improved their reading level, 7 maintained their reading level, and one did not maintain their reading level over the summer.
  •  Overall, 33% improved their reading level, 56% maintained their level and 11% did not maintain their reading level over the summer.


Summer is a critical time when students either leap ahead or fall behind:

  • During the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning obtained during the school year.
  • This is especially true for children from low-income families.
  • More than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer because they lack access to books, learning resources, and such enrichment opportunities as trips to the library, bookstore, or museum.
  • Students who lose reading ability over the summer rarely catch up.
  • Over time, the summer learning slide can add up to the equivalent of three years of reading loss by the end of fifth grade. (Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., and Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72 (4): 167–180.)

To succeed in school and life, children and young adults need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months.

Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when "kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries.

Unfortunately, some youth face anything but idyllic summer months. When the school doors close, many children struggle to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

Did You Know?

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004). 
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996). 
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007). 
  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children - particularly children at high risk of obesity - gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007). 
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).

What are the needs for summer learning programs?

·         Children need summer programs:
  • Vermont currently serves an estimated 31,529 children through summer learning programs, but nearly the same number (30,512) do not have access to programming.
·         Programs need funding to grow:
  • 46% of 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Vermont do not currently offer summer learning programs. These programs are poised to offer programming, but often lack the funding to do so.
·         Schools need support to offer services:
  • Within public schools in Vermont, only 31% offer academic enrichment programs in the summer, 34% offer remediation, and a mere 27% provide tutoring services.
·         Families need access to programs:
  • Parents are looking for summer learning opportunities for their children. 43% of parents without access to a summer learning program for their child would be interested in enrolling their child if a program were available.

During the summer months too many children, especially disadvantaged children, lose academic ground and suffer what’s known as the summer slide. Summer slide results in students falling further behind academically and widens the academic achievement gap. Summer learning programs, often run by afterschool providers, keep kids on track. These programs also provide critical support to working families by keeping kids safe and offering healthy meals and snacks.

1.    Poverty

  • The gap between the poor and the wealthy continues to widen and low-income students in Vermont consistently perform at significantly lower levels academically. 1
  •  Parents with the means invest more time and money than ever before in their children while lower-income families are increasingly stretched for time and resources. 2

2.    Equity

  • All children and youth in Vermont deserve a summer filled with rich learning opportunities.
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. 3

3.    Access

  • Over 30,000 children and youth in Vermont do not have access to summer learning programs. 4
  • It is important for every child to learn during the summer to avoid losing skills they have gained during the school year. 5

4.    Solution

  • All communities in Vermont need high-quality summer learning programs to ensure that our children and youth thrive.

1 Vermont Department of Education. School Data and Reports: NECAP Assessment Report.
2 Reardon, S.F.  (2011). The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations.
3 National Summer Learning Association. (2009). Research In Brief: Summer Can Set Kids on the Right – Or Wrong – Course.           
4 Afterschool Alliance. (2010). America After 3PM Special Report of Summer: Missed Opportunities, Unmet Demand.           
5 National Summer Learning Association. (2012). Summer Learning Day Key Messages and Story Angle.          


Why After School and Summer Learning Programs are Essential

posted Nov 10, 2015, 8:45 AM by Damon Cawley   [ updated Nov 21, 2015, 7:32 AM ]

In the U.S. today, more than 11 million children - 1 in 5 youth - are on their own unsupervised after school. These children face grave risks. They are also missing out on opportunities to learn and grow. Research shows that after school, summer learning, out-of-school time, and expanded learning programs offer a range of valuable benefits:

1. Inspiring Learners

  • High-quality after school programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior, grades and coursework.[1]
  • After school and summer programs are real solutions linked to closing the academic achievement gap and accelerating learning gains.[2]
  • High-quality expanded learning programs connect youth to their communities and offer them the opportunity to engage with their local neighbors, businesses, and organizations.

2. Helping Working Families

  • After school programs help relieve the stress on working families. In fact, parents miss an average of five days of work per year due to a lack of after school.[3]
  • 81% of Vermont parents agree that after school programs give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work.[4] For most families, there is a gap of 15-25 hours per week when parents are still at work and children are out of school and need supervision.

3. Keeping Kids Safe & Healthy

  • On school days, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for youth to commit crimes, be in or cause an automobile accident, be victims of crimes, smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs.[5]
  • For every $1 spent on quality expanded learning opportunities, Vermont gets back $2.18 in long-term savings from reduced criminal activity and substance abuse treatment, as well as accruing benefits from increased high school graduation rates and work productivity.[6]
  • After school and summer programs are important venues for improving nutrition, providing access to healthy meals and snacks, and promoting physical activity.

4. Supporting Vermont’s Vision for Education

  • Project-based, service learning, and STEM programs cultivate career awareness, build 21st century skills, and support personalized learning plans.
  • After school and summer learning programs are well positioned to provide youth, particularly those who are underserved and underrepresented, with opportunities to be college and career ready.[7]
[1] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A Meta-Analysis of After-School Programs that Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents.
[2] Vandell, D., Reisner, E., and Pierce, K. (2007). Outcomes Linked to High-Quality Afterschool Programs: Longitudinal Findings From the Study of Promising After School Programs.
[3] Catalyst & Brandeis University. (2006). After-school Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business.
[4] Afterschool Alliance. (2014). America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand.
[5] Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2006). OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book.
[6] Vermont Afterschool. (2014). Return on Investment Study. Available at http://bit.ly/1zaTHp0.
[7] Brand, A. and Valent, B. (2013). The Potential of Career and College Readiness and Exploration in Afterschool Programs.


ZAP the Gap!

posted Oct 11, 2015, 9:16 AM by Damon Cawley

Zap the Gap with Afterschool & Summer Learning is Vermont Afterschool’s statewide advocacy campaign to increase support for public funding of after school and summer learning programs in Vermont. These programs help working families, support Vermont’s major education initiatives, keep our kids safe, and help them succeed. More than 21,000 Vermont kids are enrolled in after school, but 22,000+ are waiting to get in.

Help us zap ALL the gaps – the achievement gap, opportunity gap, geographic gap, and homework gap – and bring after school and summer learning to ALL by signing their online supporter card that will be delivered to your legislators during the 2016 legislative session.


New Director!!!

posted Aug 1, 2014, 8:59 AM by Vanessa Koch

We all want to welcome Donna Gaston as our new 21C Director beginning in August 2014. 

Many of you already know Donna, she was instrumental in getting the 21C Programs up and running this past school year and helped in organizing and creating the Summer Camp 2014. Donna was Barnet School's and the Barnet/Peacham Summer Program Site Coordinator.  

Donna's background as an architect greatly enhances her skills for this position.  Donna also has substituted in the front office, taken short term assignments and is a soccer coach within the Barnet School.

We are proud to add her to our team.

Exploring Our World

posted Nov 7, 2013, 8:45 AM by Hank Ruppertsberger   [ updated Sep 17, 2014, 6:12 AM by Donna Gaston ]

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