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Guest opinion: SAIL's community approach to summer learning an easy home run for math and reading gains

Guest opinion: SAIL's community approach to summer learning an easy home run for math and reading gains

This is a guest opinion column.

Schools should consider legislation requiring students to repeat the fifth grade as long as they remain confident in their tests.

The state's recent focus on reading and math intervention is long overdue, so it is no secret that Alabama is near the bottom of most academic assessments. However, there are some gaps in progress in the state that are worthy of a closer look before any new policies are introduced.

Numerous local communities, led by the Birmingham-based, have organized summer learning programs to reinforce what students are learning in school. And these high-quality programs are finding success.

BASIC is a six-week summer learning program that teaches students reading and math while rotating between academic and sports instruction. It focuses on determination, cooperation, and perseverance as students run, throw, and kick their way through the day.

The Royals added the BASIC program into its ten-week period, owing to their success with the program. Major League Baseball gave the Royals the.

BASIC would expand its program in Kansas City. Over the last eight years, the average gains for BASIC students have been 2.5 months in reading and 4.0 months in math.

The ABF has decided to rewrite the BASIC curriculum for five to six weeks, spanning grades one to eight. The curriculum was expanded to at least twenty days of 6.5 hours of instruction.

BASIC was making these upgrades, but several Alabama-based donors combined to foster strong summer learning in the United States. SAIL has provided funding for programs, assisted assessments, and brought together programs to share best practices across the SAIL umbrella.

SAIL has supported 35 community-based summer learning programs in 13 Alabama counties this past summer, including the Birmingham, Black Belt, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville/Madison County areas. Some SAIL programs may rely on STEM lessons to meet students where they are academically. Others may rely on YMCAs and community centers, others are in churches.

Under SAIL's leadership, the ABF has developed a program that produces documented results and has proved to be replicable in several parts of the United States and at home in Alabama.

Governor Ivey's new budget includes funding to assist the expansion of community-based summer learning programs. These programs are seeing success improving reading and math scores and are worthy of legislative support.

David Osinski is the founder and executive director of the American Baseball Foundation.

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