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City's "Summer Quest" Program Aims To Stem Summer Learning Slide

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When kids return to school in September, they'll remember all those times at the pool or the beach, but many won't remember some of what they knew when they left school in June. NY1's Lindsey Christ takes a look at what the city is doing to try to end what's known as "the summer slide."

This isn't camp or summer school. It's Summer Quest, the second year of a three-year experiment to see if a partnership between the Department of Education and community-based organizations can stem the summer learning slide.

Nearly 1,800 elementary and middle-school students are in the program. It's designed for low-income kids who tend to lose two to three months' worth of what they just learned over the summer, more than students from families that are better off.

"The academics helped a lot, especially in my math," said Elizabeth Gonzalez, a participant in the program. "But it didn't only help with, like, the academics. It helped with, like, me controlling my issues.

Students attend the free program from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., which gives teachers time to focus on the academics but also include projects, art, dance, music and plenty of field trips.

"They're getting reading and writing, but they're also getting those enrichment experiences that they might not otherwise get," said Lisa Gilbride, a teacher in the program.

While the city hasn't shared hard data yet on whether it's working, they say early results are promising.

"The feedback we've been getting from our teachers and the parents is that they see the difference come September because they're learning things, as well as they're socializing with each other and learning new skills," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

They also get a lot of help, with one teacher and a counselor or two in every classroom, and only half as many students as during the year.

"They're really, really getting that individual time that they need," said Kristen Lawless, a teacher in the program.

"During the school year, it's harder, 'cause it's only one teacher per class, and there's, like, 23 of us or 30 of us," Gonzalez said.

While students, parents and educators were quick to sing the programs' benefits, there is a downside.

"Cost is an impediment, particularly at a time when public resources are scarce," said Michael Robbins of the U.S. Department of Education.

The program is in just 11 Bronx schools this summer and costs $4.5 million, about half of which came from private donors. But if it works, educators say it's worth it.

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