For school districts nationwide, this has been a challenging year. From learning losses in mathematics and reading proficiency to increases in emotional anxiety and depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, students need our support more than ever. Fortunately, there are resources that administrators can use to make an immediate difference in their students’ lives.
Signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, also known as CARES Act 2, provides an additional $54.3 billion for K-12 as part of the Elementary School Emergency Relief Fund. As each district’s needs are unique and always changing, superintendents and district administrators have a great deal of autonomy on how to use these resources most effectively.
A few approved use cases for CARES Act 2 funding include:
- Running summer and supplemental learning programs
- Addressing learning loss
- Performing assessments
- Implementing activities to support special populations
- Providing mental health services
As these funds must be used, many schools have already started to develop comprehensive summer recovery strategies to help rebound from the learning loss and negative mental health effects that COVID-19 continues to inflict on students.
The Need for Quality Summer Programming
The harmful impacts of summer learning loss, especially for students who lack access to extracurricular activities, have been well documented. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has the potential to make these effects even more pronounced.
According to a recent analysis from McKinsey & Co., the ongoing, nationwide school closures caused by COVID-19 have added to already existing educational inequities. In one data set, researchers found that students learned only “67 percent of the math and 87 percent of the reading that grade-level peers would typically have learned by last fall.” Another estimate from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), predicted that students returned to school last fall with as little as 50% of the learning gains in mathematics and 70% in reading relative to a normal school year.
Unfortunately, the negative effects of the pandemic go beyond academics. Increasingly, educators are concerned about how this year continues to impact students emotionally. In many cases, not being able to see their friends, play their favorite sports, or have activities and events to look forward to has been detrimental to their emotional well-being.
Returning to the McKinsey & Co. study, researchers concluded that because of these COVID-19 learning losses, “students will likely need additional learning hours to make up the loss,” which can include “summer school programs that already have proven benefits.”
The Proven Benefits of Camp Invention
For more than 30 years, Camp Invention®, the flagship summer program from the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), has inspired millions of students across the country through its hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum. During our 20-month curriculum development process, each activity is crafted using the latest research and piloted over the course of 10 weeks to ensure that our campers have a quality experience — so much so that in just one week of camp, participants have seen academic benefits the following school year.
Recently, in collaboration with the United Way of Summit County, NIHF partnered with Summit Education Initiative to analyze the effects Camp Invention had on 750 K-6 public school students. The researchers found that after attending one week of Camp Invention, on average, participants increased their reading and mathematics abilities.
Additionally, NIHF’s education team believes in the power of social-emotional learning (SEL). Because of this, Camp Invention is packed with opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. Through the act of play, children learn the importance of empathy by inventing ways to help others. Inspired by the stories and lessons of our NIHF Inductees, students learn that the first step in inventing is often thinking about how you can solve a problem shared by many.
Make the Most of the Summer
With its turnkey and easy-to-implement format, customizable solutions, excellent customer service and embedded professional development, Camp Invention is the ideal summer program to augment your summer recovery planning.
Contact a Summer Recovery Plan Specialist at NIHF today to learn more about Camp Invention, and to bring the fun and learning to your district.