After School and Summer in Biddeford is a BLAST!

Since February 2013, the Biddeford School Department and LearningWorks have partnered to offer afterschool and summer programming to students that need an academic boost.  Students are invited based on assessment scores and teacher recommendations.

Funding for the LearningWorks BLAST (Biddeford Learns After School Together) 2nd -5th grade afterschool program has been secured through a federal 21st Century Learning Center grant.  This is a five-year commitment, with funding decreasing in the last two years.  Many school districts have successfully applied for continuation grants when the five years are over.

Since July 2013, an additional grant from the John T. Gorman and Sam Cohen Foundations have allowed us to include entering kindergarten and 1st grade students to join the 21st Century five-week summer program.

Through this foundational grant we offer family engagement activities for K-2nd grades.  These include family field trips and dinners where parents meet the staff and interact with their children in hands on activities.  Literacy backpacks full of materials that can be used at home to extend the summer lessons are provided weekly.  We know parents are their child’s first teacher and this initiative provides meaningful home-school connections.

Summer 2015 will be the last Gorman/Cohen award for this initiative.  The following data demonstrates the need for this early entry into school and hopefully will be used to find other funding to allow us to continue this K-2nd grade summer programming.

  • K-2nd grade average daily attendance rate was 84%.

  • National studies show that without engaging summer learning, students’ proficiency actually decreases.  This initiative reversed that.

  • 100% of entering kindergarten students maintained or increased proficiency in sound and letter identification in the five week program

  • 86% of entering 1st and 2nd grade students maintained or increased reading proficiency.

This is big news since we know students typically fall behind during the summer months. Not only did participate students avoid “summer slide,” they made significant gains.  Because of this early intervention many students enter school in the fall on level with their peers and do not need extra services, such as, Title I interventions.

For more information please contact Marci Dionne, Director of LearningWorks BLAST, mdionne@learningworks.me (207) 251-5771