Academic Skill Development
Rigorous academic programming during the summer months means significant academic gains in reading and math, as well as greatly improved self-esteem for the Scholars SMART serves. According to the National Center for Summer Learning, the lack of academic summer programming is responsible for declines in academic development among all children. Accelerated summer learning programs are an effective strategy for impacting student achievement, and are particularly important in low-income communities where students face the steepest declines in learning over the summer months. Research suggests that participation in quality summer learning programs annually makes a 5 month difference in the learning achievements of children. Furthermore, more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college. SMART’s goal is to provide a summer learning program that:
- Maximizes summer learning time (our program operates eight hours per day, five days per week, for six weeks)
- Provides outstanding instruction and mentoring (all SMART classes are taught by highly qualified, certified teachers)
- Provides a skill-based and data-driven curriculum - aligned with current state standards
- Involves rigorous evaluation, including standardized testing and individualized learning plans
- Increases students’ positive attitudes toward learning
- Enables SMART students to feel confident, motivated and engaged in school Develops strong learning skills in our Scholars
- Allows Scholars to feel a sense of belonging and healthy, valued relationships with the SMART community
- Helps SMART Scholars make a successful transition to their more rigorous school environments
- Increases our students’ understanding of the path to college
Peer Community & Support
SMART’s goal is to get 100% of our Scholars to college. At SMART, we recognize the importance of creating a college bound culture for our Scholars as soon as they enter the program. The SMART summer program is an important first step in this process. Peer culture (particularly having a cohort of friends who plan to attend college) is highly influential in student matriculation to college. The summer program allows us to start building this peer community with our Scholars. We recognize that academic preparation is by far the most effective means of increasing the odds that students will graduate from high school ready for college, and that is why our summer program focuses heavily on academics. However, we also believe in the importance of establishing a clear set of expectations for our college bound cohorts that emphasizes the importance of college attendance, and the relationship between a college degree and professional achievement. We begin introducing this language to our peer cohorts during summer programming as these are the crucial first two years of the SMART journey.
Summer Program Schedule
Mornings at SMART’s Academic Summer Enrichment Program are dedicated to math and language arts, and focus on reviewing the previous year's common core standards. Afternoon curriculum includes electives such as international language, art, dance, drama, sports, music, health education, and public speaking. These extra-curricular classes expose students to many different areas of potential interests, provide great opportunities for community building, and serve to strengthen the development of the whole child. The skills gained from these extra-curricular classes are essential to the growth of our Scholars as individuals, and ultimately, their success at the independent middle schools where they will be required to participate in similar electives.
Science-Based Field Trips
SMART recognizes the importance of early exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Studies indicate that 7 of the 10 projected fastest-growing occupations over the next 10 years are in STEM fields. Unfortunately, young men and women of color have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM careers, and compared to their more affluent peers, the number of low-income students of color who express a desire to study one of these fields in college is low. SMART attempts to address this issue through our Friday science-based field trips. The main role of these trips is to provide direct learning experiences with concrete phenomena and materials – either collected artifacts or interactive exhibits that will serve to spark an interest in science for SMART Scholars at an early age. The activities our students participate in are hands-on and minds-on activities, where Scholars engage in activities outside of a regular classroom environment.