Powering Down Power Up!

A Summary of our New Sizzling Summer School Programs

As we prepare for Day One tomorrow, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on summer 2018.  In summers past, our summer school model primarily focused on remediation for students needing additional supports. Meaning, if students weren’t going to school during the summer to receive academic intervention, then there were not many places for them to go within the district to further their education.

However, this summer we launched, Power Up!, the district’s redesign of the traditional summer school model to move towards a more dynamic, engaging, and enriching opportunity for all our students.

Atlanta Public Schools’ Power Up! summer program allowed students of all levels, from elementary to high school, to take their creativity and learning abilities above and beyond.

 For instance, the Xanadu summer program doubled in size, and included a variety of differentiated summer enrichment programs for gifted students in grades K-12 from across the district. We also worked with the Flying Classroom, STE(A)M Truck, Emmaus House Freedom School, Teach for America, and many others. Furthermore, we scaled up key summer partnerships – such as Odyssey and Horizons.  screen-shot-2018-06-13-at-3-25-29-pm-1

We also saw a plethora of engaging lessons, that included coding, wood workshop, theater, art and music classes, at sites across the district. This summer, our schools had autonomy to use their allotment in accordance with their school’s remediation and enrichment needs as opposed to only being provided the option of sending their students to the traditional APS summer school — as done in previous years.

As the Power Up! program concluded, surveys were given to students, parents, staff, and site administrators to assess their perception of the new model. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with majority of respondents indicating they would like for the program to continue.

Here’s an overview of those survey results:

  • 99% of parents would consider sending their students to a Power Up! program again
  • 78% of students said their program and the activities they did were either “Really good” or “Fantastic”
  • 75% of Site Administrators were either “Very Satisfied” or “Extremely Satisfied” with the program overall.
  • 86% of staff enjoyed the design of Power Up!

APS_Spring2018_EEE1043-X3Although I am elated that students were able to stay engaged during the summer months, I know that there is room for growth with our revamped summer model. For instance, we want to recruit more for enrollment. We could’ve served twice as many students that showed up each day.

With the program design in place and many of the kinks worked out, the district will be in a much better position to start planning for the summer of 2019, allowing schools to enroll students in the early spring before families make other commitments. We’ll also encourage our schools to have a more streamlined schedule to avoid confusion among parents and guardians.

Furthermore, to alleviate running into the same concerns in the years to come, the team has committed to implementing earlier planning, marketing, and enrollment strategies that will both boost attendance and prevent stress on school-based staff.

I wholeheartedly believe that summer should be an opportunity to accelerate and learn in a fun-filled way, and I want more students to benefit from summer enrichment.

I am appreciative of the work that was done to launch this initiative for our students this summer, and I look forward to expanding our Power Up! program next year.

I look forward to what’s ahead and cannot wait to kick off the first day of school (tomorrow)!

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