Summer Reading Gains
During the summer of 2016, students in grades K through 3 worked on the Lexia reading program. Lexia measures students’ progress on specific reading skills. Each time a student worked on Lexia, his or her progress was logged and tracked electronically, which gave teachers and reading specialists a real-time tool that helped them identify areas of weakness allowing them to structure appropriate interventions and lessons to address those weaknesses. That information allowed us to set up differentiated reading groups for the six weeks of summer work. The results were impressive given that the reading skills of most low-income students slide backward during summer months. The number of students in grades K through 3 reading at grade level increased from 29% to 46% during the 2016 Summer Program.
Student Retention and Attendance
During the Horizons Summer Program of 2016, our student retention rate was 95% from the Summer Program of 2015. 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 2016 our overall attendance rate was 98%.
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, 95% of Horizons graduates in the class of 2016 enrolled in college or post-secondary training.
Every Horizons student learns to swim. Most students come to the program not knowing how to swim and are fearful of the water. Overcoming this fear and learning to trust our qualified instructors builds self-esteem that spills over into the classroom. 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. 82% of students who participated in the 2016 Summer program achieved deep water/advanced swimming skills and all of the students swam daily.