It is with great pleasure that I share with you that beginning in the summer of 2015, WSG will offer a full academic program for 3rd grade students. The 3rd grade will join the 4th and 5th grades at The VIEW Campus. I am excited that we will be meeting students at a crucial point in their educations: when they transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
I am also thrilled that the new 3rd grade class will serve as a pilot for an innovative year-round academic program. Research shows the majority of students from communities like ours perform better when they have consistent interaction with teachers and support staff throughout the year. The summer months are also more dangerous for students and the increased activity in their neighborhoods limits the calm and quiet time that they need for reading at home or other learning-based activities.
Our staff, administration, and Board of Trustees have thoroughly researched and evaluated both of these initiatives. We believe that by implementing these programs we will be able to improve the level of academic success of our students not only while they attend WSG, but also through high school and throughout their lives.
The need to develop a 3rd grade program is clear: recent studies have shown that reading proficiency in the 3rd grade is the clearest predictor of high school graduation and career success. Students living in low-income communities fall between 2.5 and 3 years behind by the 5th grade, ground that is difficult to make up in middle and high school.
Furthermore, students living in communities like ours lose an average of 2 months of grade level gains in math and reading skills during the summer break, meaning that teachers must spend up to 8 weeks each fall reviewing material. Current research indicates that students from communities like ours that participate in year-round programs are increasingly out-performing students in 10-month programs. By extending our curriculum through the summer, we believe our students will have similar success.