We’ve all heard it said, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” The same wisdom explains why our kids experience a summer slide when they are away from the academic rigor of their classrooms. Many parents enroll their kids in fun, educational camps and activities through the summer break to help fight off what would otherwise be inevitable learning loss. This year, teachers and parents alike are rightfully concerned about the educational crisis that has resulted from the pandemic and what the implications will be for their kids.
The preliminary data paints a rather dismal picture: An early analysis by the Brookings Institute estimates that students could begin school this fall with only about 70% of the learning gains in reading from the prior academic year, and possibly less than 50% of the gains in math. Researchers at Brown University corroborate that prediction, forecasting that students could return with only 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with only 37-50% of the learning gains in mathematics.
In Montgomery Country Public Schools, disaggregated reading and math performance data prior to COVID-19 already demonstrated a stark disparity along racial and ethnic lines: only 30% of Latino students and 40% of African American students are proficient in these areas. For students who were already lagging behind, Covid-19 could put a full grade level or more distance between them and their peers as they return to school.
To keep our promise to kids in our community and to help achieve more equitable educational outcomes in the future, KID Museum has been working in close partnership with districts, schools, and community organizations to combat summer learning loss across the region. Through a mix of direct programming to kids and families, scholarships to expand access to our educational summer camps, and professional development for educators, we are helping to empower young people as self-directed learners and equip teachers to deliver high-quality instruction in innovative ways.
Here are some of the promising initiatives that we’ve championed this summer across the DMV:
Expanding our Summer Camp Scholarship Program
With generous funding support from Greater Washington Community Foundation, Westfield Montgomery & Westfield Wheaton, Dimensions Sciences, and individual donors (whose combined contributions totaled nearly $40,000), we were able to provide summer camp scholarships to students from low-income families, with an emphasis on also reaching students from racial and ethnic backgrounds that are often underrepresented in STEM and invention fields. We could not have accomplished our goals without the partnership of our local school district, Montgomery County Public Schools, and two community organizations that work within some of our most diverse and resilient communities: Identity and DC Children’s Law Center.
Delivering Maker-Driven Coaching and Curriculum for MCPS Teachers
For the second consecutive year, KID Museum has partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools through the LEAP Program to support eight Title I elementary schools—this year offering our enrichment programming virtually. Through our partnership with LEAP, we deliver teacher professional development and coaching and a tailored curriculum for rising second graders that combines maker projects and science content.
Launching a New Invention Education Professional Development Pilot
With funding from the Lemelson Foundation, KID Museum and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History are partnering to design a new professional development offering for teachers looking to deepen their practice in invention education. In the coming months, the project team will collaborate on new education training materials to support teachers and to guide them in engaging their students in invention education.
We’ve been busy this summer, and we’re grateful to all of our partners for helping us make good on our promise to empower the next generation with the skills to invent the future. Interested in partnering with us? Please don’t hesitate to reach out. My team and I would be delighted to hear from you.
Read more thought-provoking pieces about education, the future of work, and innovation From Cara’s Desk.