Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Wallace Foundation Partners with Higher Achievement in Support of Summer and Extended Learning

Washington, DC June 22, 2010 – Higher Achievement announced today that the Wallace Foundation has made a landmark investment of $3 million in Higher Achievement over the next three years. Higher Achievement, one of only four service providers from across the country selected, is a part of the foundation’s initiative to provide disadvantaged urban students with more time for high-quality learning – both through improved summer learning opportunities, and through extending the school day and school year.

The foundation has joined with an initial group of partners to help build understanding and develop knowledge that districts, cities and states can use to take action. In addition to Higher Achievement, those partners include: The National Summer Learning Association, The National Center on Time and Learning, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), Horizons National, RAND, MDRC, and Child Trends.

“The support that we are receiving from the Wallace Foundation is revolutionary,” said Richard Tagle, Higher Achievement CEO. “We are honored to be part of a select group of organizations that are deemed to be doing high quality work as leaders in innovation and proven practices in the field. This grant will allow us to expand our capacity to serve more scholars, evaluate our summer academy, and improve the quality of our program.”

Wallace’s initiative comes amid increased interest and concern about what approaches are most effective in boosting student achievement:

In the area of summer learning, research shows that over the summer break common in most school districts, all children – but especially poor children – lose some of what they have learned during the school year. Despite this evidence of the problem, less is known about what measures might be effective to solve it, and what state and district policies would be needed to support those measures. Evaluations demonstrate that effective summer learning programs can reduce summer learning loss, but there are few instances of those programs being successfully applied across a district – something Wallace hopes to test with one or more district partners.

In the area of extended learning time, the evidence is unclear about what it takes for more time added to the school day, week or year to make a difference in students’ academic achievement. However, studies of extended learning time have shown positive effects on students’ school attendance, engagement and social and emotional development.

With an initial investment of $9 million, Wallace is focusing on three main strategies: 1) building awareness and understanding of the value of adding more time for high-quality learning, 2) supporting national organizations that do a good job of educating children in now-underutilized hours in order to help those groups reach more children, and 3) working with selected school districts, to test how programs to provide more high-quality learning time might be applied widely in a district to help disadvantaged children.

With the generous support from Wallace, Higher Achievement will be able to open a new affiliate in Richmond, Virginia, improve the operations of our national office, DC Metro affiliate and Baltimore affiliate, evaluate the effectiveness of its programs, and share best practices with the field.

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