Dubuque Launches "Summer Academy" to Prevent Learning Loss

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa — A Dubuque non-profit committed to improving 3rd grade reading in the community has taken on another project to keep kids engaged and learning during the summer.

"The Summer Academy" program kicked off Monday. Organizers with the non-profit "Every Child, Every Promise" say the conventional six-hour, 180 day school year may not be enough for some students. With the help of a other programs and non-profits the "Summer Academy" will help improve the reading levels of 45 students enrolled in Dubuque's Title One schools.

Educators say in the primary grades, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, they teach kids to read. But starting in 3rd grade, kids read in order to learn new things. At that point, if a student can't read, they quickly get left behind.

"Every child experiences loss over the summer but students who already are struggling or come from low income families lose even more," said St. Mark's Community Center Director Tara Velez.

Studies reveal students who are not able to read at grade level by the end of 3rd Grade, are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Fast forward a few years, 70 percent of prisoners are high school drop outs. "The cause and effect is pretty clear. If students aren't performing at grade level by 3rd grade, they are going to struggle through their academic career," Velez added.

While much of the program is focused on reading, kids also get a chance to be kids. Students get to pick a way to spend the other part of the day: physical education, art, foreign language and dance. A little fun mixed in with all that learning. After all it is still summer.
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