NY1 has learned that the first-year results of the city pilot program to help thousands of struggling students hold on to what they've learned instead of losing some of it over the summer were not good. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following exclusive report.
It's half school, half extracurricular, all hands on. For two years, the city's Summer Quest program has provided extra learning for thousands of struggling students in the South Bronx, nine hours a day, five days a week for five weeks.
For the students, the goal is to prevent summer learning loss, a big problem for low-income kids. For the program, the goal is to prove that it works and then expand it nationally.
Back in July, the city invited reporters to tour one of the 11 sites and learn about the multi-million-dollar three-year pilot, then in its second year.
However, when NY1 asked for results from the first year, a Department of Education spokesperson told us they didn't have anything ready.
Not true, it turns out. NY1 recently discovered a 40-page report that the DOE has had for a year. Buried on page 27 were the academic findings.
"For the middle school students, both program and comparison groups experienced summer learning loss in math and English," the report says. "There was no...difference in summer learning loss between the program and comparison groups."
The report also found that while more students came to see math as useful over the course of the summer, "The proportion of middle school participants who agreed with the statement "Reading is boring" also increased."
"The whole purpose of an evaluation is to analyze the information and then to learn from that information, and from the first-year evaluation, we incorporated some of the recommendations as far as how to improve it," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "Early indications in the second year show some gains, and we'll have a formal report soon."
The pilot program is expected to cost more than $12 million, about $5 million in public funds and the rest raised privately.
"We're tackling something that's extremely difficult, but I'm proud of the collaborative effort," Walcott said.
With more than 35 city offices, dozens of community based organizations and several high-profile donors, a lot is riding on the results.