Report Shows Dallas City of Learning’s Educational Programs Impacted 36K Students in Summer 2020 » Dallas Innovates

When the pandemic forced many U.S. schools to close in the spring of 2020, students and teachers were thrown into an unknown virtual classroom. The transition to distance learning was a major challenge for all involved as they were not all equipped with the right technology, resources, and support.

With parents and teachers concerned about the worsening of the “summer slide” and students developing emotional health problems, Big Thought decided, the Dallas City of Learning and other local organizations to form a coalition focused on social and emotional learning in and out of school focused practices called SEL Dallas.

Meanwhile, a summer 2020 report has been published in the Dallas City of Learning, listing the first data results on this and its other summer programs, as well as a follow-up report highlighting the unprecedented time that summer 2020 will be due to the ongoing pandemic .

In a time of turmoil, the Dallas City of Learning – a public-private partnership aimed at helping young people learn and build skills when they are not in school– Found a way to stay focused and provide students with accessible, high quality summer learning education for little to no cost.

As the team As you learn about the pandemic, adjustments have been made and its limitations led to innovations and creations across the board.

“The digital divide has proven to be a major challenge,” said Byron Sanders, CEO of Big Thought, in a statement. “I am very impressed with the effort, creativity and courage that our educators and administrators have put into being there for our children.”

Big Thought's Byron Sanders discusses STEM training

Byron Sanders [Image: Michael Samples]

Though this summer definitely looked different from the rest, the Dallas City of Learning (DCOL) worked with 414 different organizations, whose roles ranged from hosting events to delivering programs for teens and families. While the number of partners declined from 2019 onwards, it didn’t discourage the DCOL, which successfully offered 856 different programs and events, including 763 online programs, 95 in-person programs, and 2 events across the city.

“We shouldn’t compare these results from previous summers as we expected lower results,” Sergio Antonio Garcia, senior manager, Big Thought Learning Systems, said in a statement. “Despite the lower total numbers, the summer of 2020 triggered many important innovations that will continue to have a positive impact on the ecosystem.”

The Dallas City of Learning summer 2020 results

Recently, the City of Dallas, the Dallas Independent School District, Big Thought, and the SMU Center for Research and Evaluation joined forces on a State of the Summer update dedicated to evaluating the results of the Dallas City of Learning program.

In 2020, the Dallas City of Learning partners served 36,665 people and provided 1,049 virtual and personal program opportunities – resulting in 1,480,961 accumulated program hours. Sixty-six percent of program leaders said they made significant changes to their programming for summer 2020, and 68 percent said they are likely to continue the adjustments they made even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

However, the programs’ assessments at the beginning of the year showed that in addition to the typical 2.5 months of summer learning loss, the students had 3.2 months of teaching loss due to school closings.

“This reduction in the dosage of summer program hours is no surprise, yet it is worrying. This shows that the loss of study time many students experienced during the school year extended into the summer, ”said Dr. Annie Wright, SMU Center for Research and Evaluation, in a statement. “This particularly affects our results and the national results, which show that dosage is important. Gathering hours and days of programming over several summers seems to really affect students’ academic results. “

The surveyed students rated their current social-emotional skills 2.22 out of 4, a decrease of almost a full point from their pre-COVID ratings. This indicates that the average student disagrees with positive statements about their feelings since school closed in March 2020.

“We have a lot of catching up to do, and we all, including our after-school program partners, need to address this significant learning loss,” said Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, in a statement. “Organizations like Big Thought and the Dallas City of Learning system have the necessary infrastructure to be part of the solution.”

Despite the environment, the ecosystem has adapted and the summer programs have provided children with a safe environment where they can connect, socialize, possibly eat and process what was going on around them.

As a result, the The survey results of the programs for young people and carers were more positive in summer 2020 than in previous years. ActuallyStudents rated their positive attitude towards school with an average of 3.40 out of 4 points (one tenth of a point more than 3.29 in summer 2019 and 3.33 in summer 2018).

Nurses reported that the adjustments to the Dallas City of Learning programs for the summer of 2020 were satisfactory, meeting their family’s needs that summer for a socially detached learning opportunity and that they stood out by the way the program was conducted , felt safe.

Similarly, 52 percent of students said, “When I joined this program this summer, it was the first time in a long time that I was with other children outside of my own family.”

“We are really happy to be part of an educational community that is open-minded and cooperative. With the Dallas City of Learning facility already in place, we were able to respond to the pandemic in a unique way, ”said Sanders. “We have a chance to get out of this crisis and develop education for the better, and our team is ready for it.”

The State of the Summer event also presented four awards to organizations that participated in the past year.

The Superintendent’s Award went to Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation. The Eagle Scholars program recognizes that there is more to college than just grades and academics. It prepares students from seventh grade for interview skills, public speaking, and writing while also helping them gain proficiency by knowing their voice matters.

The award for Partner of the Year went to two organizations this year: Fit and Faithful Living and Dallas Community Fellowship, Inc. Both organizations were aware that not all adolescents have access to devices or technologies for virtual learning and Providing personally socially distant regulated programs for youth as well as Food services that emphasize the importance of all-round services and resources.

The Neighbor Award went to 2 Inspire Peace Inc, who gave Learning tools to understand and express emotions using music, art and breathing exercises as a means of healing by combining the healing stages with songs by the featured artist or album to bring emotions to the surface.

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