Summer Reading Gains
One of the main goals of Horizons is to assist all students in building literacy skills to ensure that students are reading on grade level. This summer we initiated a new literacy approach, including more individualized support and testing using DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). This better aligns us with the Norwalk and Stamford Public Schools in terms of tracking and testing – providing a continuum of specialized literacy support. We administered pre-and post- testing and monitored the varying fluencies that correlated to each grade. In Kindergarten we monitored letter naming, nonsense word, and word use fluencies. In 1st grade, we monitored letter naming, nonsense word CLS and WRC, and oral reading fluencies. Eighty percent of our K-3 students moved from "Well Below Benchmark" to "Below Benchmark" or "Benchmark."
Student Retention and Attendance
During the Horizons Summer Program of 2017, our student retention rate was 91% from the Summer Program of 2016. Sixty percent of our students had a perfect attendance record for our Summer Program and over 85% of our students had one or less absence. According to the RAND corporation, the academic advantage for students with 20 or more days of attendance in a voluntary summer program after the second summer translated to 20-25% of typical annual gains in math and reading. At the Horizons Summer Program of 2017 our overall attendance rate was 94%.
Almost 60% of the Horizons students who participated in the 2016 Summer Program had been part of the Horizons family for at least 3 consecutive years. Almost 15% of the students had been with us for 8 summers or more. We are providing structure, academic support, exposure, a sense of community and belonging, and an infrastructure of vested and caring adults to students who truly need it. By design, we have built multi-year programs that develop long-term relationships between our teachers and the children we serve, providing comprehensive support along the way. And, as our outcomes show, the impact of the Horizons commitment to each child is transformative.
High School Graduation and College Enrollment
High school students from low-income families drop out of school at a rate roughly six times that of their peers from higher-income families. According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, only 75% of the students who received free or reduced price lunches graduated from high school on time in 2014, compared to 92.2% of their wealthier peers. Horizons students are beating the averages and 100% of our high school seniors graduated in May. Not only are they graduating from high school—they are going on to college. Most are the first in their families to do so. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2013 the college enrollment rates for low-income, recent high school graduates was 46%. In contrast, 97% of Horizons graduates in the class of 2018 enrolled in colleges, including Fordham University, Harvard University, Iona College, Lehigh University, Trinity College and the University of Connecticut, to highlight a few.
Nearly 70% of African American children and 58% of Hispanic children have little or no swimming ability, which puts them at a greater risk for drowning. In predominately minority communities, the youth drowning rate is 2-3 times higher than the national average. Most students come to the program not knowing how to swim and are fearful of the water. Our team of instructors and lifeguards ensure that all of our students learn to swim. Horizons provides daily swimming instruction on-site at the NCCS pool in the mornings, and the popular recreational swimming, in our donated neighborhood pools in the afternoon. There is a strong emphasis on water safety such as survival floating, resting strokes and preparedness for rip currents. When Kindergarteners enter Horizons usually none can swim, and by the time they leave us in 5th grade, all are capable in deep water - this confidence spills over into the classroom. Seventeen percent of our K-8 students did not know how to swim at the beginning of the Summer and one hundred precent of those students had learned how to swim by the end of the summer. We had twice as many advanced swimmers at the end of the summer -- 29% were advanced swimmers vs. 12% at the beginning of the summer.