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January 7, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Baltimore City Students Attending
Baltimore City elementary students who regularly attended a local summer school
program made significant academic gains this year, says a new Hopkins study.
Local Summer Program Make Stronger Gains
than Peers, Says Hopkins Study
Hopkins education researcher Geoffrey Borman has released the first-year results
of a three-year longitudinal study that tracks the impact of
Teach Baltimore, an
academically intensive summer program that trains university students to provide eight
weeks of summer reading and writing instruction to low-income Baltimore City
elementary students. The study involves about 450 elementary school children from high-
poverty areas of the city at five different sites.
Borman, a researcher at Hopkins'
Center for Social Organization of Schools, says the results have implications for
education policy makers struggling with issues like year-round schooling, mandatory
summer school and preventing what is called the "summer slide effect" for poor children.
Research has already shown that low-income students tend to post achievement losses
during the summer months, while more advantaged children make gains. The disparity is
believed to occur primarily because children from middle and upper-income families tend
to have more books and reading opportunities over the summer than do children of low-
income families. These summer learning differences, compounded year after year, have
been shown to be the primary cause of a progressively widening achievement gap
between advantaged and disadvantaged children, since children in high poverty
neighborhoods tend to learn at the same rates during the school year as their more
"While common sense suggests that summer instruction may help, strong evidence
proving it is missing," says Borman. "Educators have developed very few strong,
academically focused and replicable summer programs. Even fewer educators and
researchers have designed quality studies of the academic effects associated with summer
interventions, and no researchers have assessed the potential benefits of multi-year
The study's first-year results show that students randomly assigned to Teach
Baltimore performed, as a whole, moderately better than their control group peers. But
the students who followed through and actively participated in Teach Baltimore,
attending 75 percent or more of program sessions, made significant gains. Among these
students, the average Teach Baltimore kindergartner outscored 81 percent of similar
control-group peers and the average first-grade student outscored 64 percent of similar
However, within the high-attending group, the scores of the most academically
needy kindergarten and first-grade students did not improve as much as hoped. Borman
believes the lack of improvement among these children could imply that they need
specialized instruction beyond that which collegiate volunteers, and many regular
teachers, can provide.
"The true test, though, will be what happens over the next two summers," says
Borman. "Because the goal of this multi-year program is to prevent children from falling
farther and farther behind as they proceed through elementary school, our most
interesting results are yet to come."
Founded in 1992 by Matt Boulay, then a Johns Hopkins University senior and
now a public elementary school teacher in New York City, Teach Baltimore has provided
summer instruction to almost 1,100 Baltimore City Public School students and has
recruited and trained 179 college students from 20 institutions of higher education.
Teach Baltimore now operates out of the university's Office of Volunteer Services and is
entirely run by students and recent graduates.
The Teach Baltimore summer begins with two weeks of intense training, in which
instructors become familiar with the curriculum and are introduced to quality lesson
planning, behavior management, and parent involvement. Two days after training ends,
the eight-week program begins. The Teach Baltimore day begins with a breakfast and is
followed by three hours of intensive reading and writing instruction every morning.
Morning instruction is followed by lunch and then a series of afternoon activities that
focus on hands-on science and mathematics activities, recreation, art, and drama. It also
includes weekly afternoon field trips and cultural enrichment experiences like trips to the
Washington Zoo, Port Discovery Children's Museum, and other area attractions.
Borman's study is made possible through a grant from the Smith Richardson
Foundation, Children and Families at Risk Program. For a complete copy of the Year One
Results of "Long-Term Impact of Multiple Summer Interventions on the Reading Skills of
Low-Income, Early-Elementary Students Study," contact Leslie Rice at 410-516-7160 or by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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