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The Importance of Engaging Every Student

Educator Insights

On July 14, 2022, in conjunction with five coordinating partners and more than 20 national organizations, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Engage Every Student Initiative. This is a bold call to action for schools across the country to use their ESSER resources on high-quality out-of-school-time learning to address achievement and engagement gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release promoting the initiative, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona reiterated the importance of using ESSER funds to help students — especially those who have been historically disadvantaged — recover from the pandemic.

"Quality out-of-school time programs have always supported students' academic, social, and emotional growth, but as we recover from the pandemic, these opportunities have never mattered more," said Cardona in a press release promoting the initiative. "We need bold action, especially for low-income students and students of color who have historically struggled to access quality afterschool programs and rich summer learning experiences. This new partnership cements the Department of Education's commitment to ensuring that more students have access to meaningful, enriching out-of-school programming, not just some of the day, but all day, all year round."

The effectiveness of providing high-quality, out-of-school programming is a subject that has been studied at great length and is widely considered to represent an ideal way to help improve student academic outcomes.

John Falk, founder of the Institute for Learning Innovation and Emeritus Sea Grant Professor of Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University, is a nationally recognized leader in this type of pedagogy. This expertise led Falk to partner with the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) to study the effectiveness of incorporating authentic invention education pedagogy in an out-of-school-time program.

Studying the beneficial effects of just one week of Camp Invention®, NIHF’s flagship K-6 summer education program, Falk found:

  • Statistically significant improvements in creativity, STEM interest and the ability to use and apply problem-solving techniques
  • Even larger statistically significant improvements in the above areas for students who attended Camp Invention multiple times over a four-year span
  • Sustained long-term increases in creativity, STEM interest and problem-solving abilities ranging from one to four years after attending the program

Additional research conducted by the Summit Education Initiative found that NIHF education programs improved children’s social-emotional learning outcomes, sense of belonging, college-going identity, future sense of self and motivation for academic success in school.

In line with the Department of Education’s goals to support students across the country with high-quality out-of-school programming, NIHF’s customized education programs can make an immediate difference in your district.


Learn More About NIHF Education Programs

To learn more about how our education programs can engage and support your students through confidence-building, hands-on experiences, we invite you to visit our website!

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