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Summer Learning Reimagined

The RISE Summer Learning Program's Transformative Approach

After three transformative summer, the RISE Summer Learning Program has become indispensable, equipping schools, educators, and leaders with comprehensive strategies to effectively counteract and reverse instructional setbacks.

Summer Learning Reimagined: The RISE Summer Learning Program's Transformative Approach

Summer programs have long been pivotal in curbing summer learning loss. Yet, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, their role has become indispensable. The unprecedented instructional gaps created during the pandemic's two-year upheaval have called for innovative solutions.

In response, Lavinia Group introduced the RISE Summer Learning Program, a collaborative effort with educational institutions aimed at ensuring as many students as possible start the academic year on solid footing. This program equips schools, educators, and leaders with comprehensive strategies and resources to effectively counteract and reverse the instructional setbacks experienced.

Transforming Summer Learning with RISE

RISE is a dynamic five-week summer school program, distinguished by its comprehensive literacy and math curriculum, foundational training, and ongoing professional development (PD) for educators. This all-inclusive approach is designed to equip schools with the necessary resources to deliver an exceptional summer learning experience. In 2023, RISE welcomed over 25,000 students from first to ninth grade, who showed remarkable progress over the course of the program. Not only did students succeed, but their scores also soared. In Math, students experienced a 24-point increase, marking a remarkable improvement of 120%. Similarly, in Literacy, educators observed a 25-point increase, representing a significant 189% enhancement in student literacy proficiency.

The program is driven by four core objectives:

  • To ensure a significant number of students start the new school year at or above grade level.
  • To provide all students with access to a high-quality, culturally responsive summer curriculum.
  • To arm educators and school leaders with effective strategies and tools to address and close the learning gaps from the previous academic year.
  • To enhance teachers' instructional skills with high-impact strategies that can be integrated into their teaching throughout the year.

Julia Pockros of the Lavinia Group highlights the uniqueness of RISE, noting its pioneering approach to summer education: "RISE uniquely offers educators a specialized summer curriculum, complete with initial and ongoing assessments, and, crucially, continuous professional development. This level of intentionality, aimed at supporting students who are below grade level, sets a new standard in summer learning that goes beyond traditional year-round programs or tutoring.”

Charting Progress: The Impact of a Knowledge-Enhancing Curriculum

Insights gleaned from 2022 surveys, showed it's evident that educators emerged from the summer program feeling empowered and equipped for the academic year ahead.

  • Empowered Educators: 84% of teachers reported that their experience with the summer program would make them more effective in the 2023-2024 school year, underscoring the value of the professional development they received.
  • Quality Curriculum: The program's rigorous curriculum received high marks from educators, with 83% praising the math content and 80% commending the literacy content for its challenging nature.

The remarkable success of RISE's curriculum in building skills and knowledge offers compelling evidence of its impact.

Scaling from 3,000 students in Indianapolis during the first year of the RISE Summer Learning program to 25,000 students nationwide in 2023, program outcomes highlight significant achievements:

  • Math Mastery: Math proficiency grew impressively, with the proportion of students achieving Basic or Proficient levels skyrocketing by 66%.
  • Reading Progress: In reading teachers witnessed significant gains, with the percentage of students reaching Basic or Proficient levels surging by 48%.

Screenshot 2024-05-02 at 11.44.36 AMThese outcomes not only showcase RISE's remarkable effectiveness in bridging learning gaps but also underscore its pivotal role in cultivating a resilient and adaptable educational community. 

RISE empowers educators and students alike, instilling them with the tools and confidence needed to conquer the hurdles posed by the pandemic. In partnership with the RISE Summer Learning program, educators have forged ahead, navigating challenges with determination and resilience, laying the groundwork for a future filled with boundless learning opportunities and endless possibilities for students. 

Click Here to View the RISE Summer Learning Program 2023 Impact Report.

Adapting to Challenges with High-Quality Summer Learning Professional Development

The effective use of curriculum is as crucial as the curriculum's quality itself. The cornerstone of achieving transformative educational outcomes lies in robust professional development that supports and enhances curriculum implementation, ensuring consistency in the classroom. 
In the current educational landscape, teachers and school leaders alike are navigating through a sea of increased responsibilities and limited support. Here, the RISE program distinguishes itself by integrating intensive professional development at its core. This commitment to ongoing learning not only contributes to the significant student progress observed but also empowers educators with advanced instructional strategies. These strategies, designed for immediate application and long-term educational impact, promise to enrich classroom experiences in the upcoming school year and beyond. 

Recognizing the diverse needs of educators, RISE offers two tailored professional development pathways. 

The Self-Paced, Asynchronous Learning Pathway provides the flexibility to design a summer learning experience that aligns with individual schedules, offering autonomy and adaptability. 

On the other hand, the Learning Community Pathway fosters a sense of unity and shared purpose, connecting teachers with peers across the country for a collective learning journey.

RISE workshops are vibrant hubs of collaboration, active learning, and reflection. These live, virtual sessions connect educators directly with the minds behind the curriculum and feature insights from award-winning authors, fostering a rich, collaborative learning environment. Here, teachers refine their lesson plans, tackle classroom challenges with newfound strategies, and embrace evidence-based teaching methods, including the integration of authentic, educationally sound literature.

A Transferrable Model: A Year-Round Model for Success

The RISE Summer Program, anchored in robust professional development (PD), presents a model that could revolutionize year-round educational strategies. By enhancing the teaching practices and student outcomes beyond the summer months, RISE exemplifies the potential for continuous improvement and adaptation in education.

Julia Pockros, reflecting on the program's success, highlights its systematic approach: "The key to RISE's effectiveness lies in its structured yet flexible PD framework. We empower teachers with ongoing, in-depth professional development, led by content experts. This approach not only allows educators to personalize the program to fit their unique teaching styles but also provides a solid foundation for lesson planning. Our professional development sessions foster a vibrant community of practice, enabling teachers to exchange ideas, tackle challenges collaboratively, and refine their approach to student work. This culture of shared learning and support is instrumental in our success and is something we advocate for throughout the academic year."

The impact of the RISE Summer Learning Program over the course of the last three years has been profound, benefiting both students and teachers. Students showed remarkable progress in assessed standards, entering the new school year on stronger footing. Teachers, equipped with a fresh arsenal of instructional strategies, are poised to enhance their classroom dynamics for years to come. The Lavinia Group's targeted meetings and data tools have sharpened teachers' abilities to identify and address student learning gaps, leading to significant gains in math and ELA proficiency. Moreover, improvements in students' ability to tackle open-ended questions signal a deeper understanding and engagement with the material.

This evidence of growth underscores the transformative power of the RISE program, suggesting a promising path forward for integrating these practices into the broader educational framework, ensuring resilience, adaptability, and continuous learning for educators and students alike.

The past two years of the RISE summer programs have not only equipped students and teachers with essential strategies and skills but have also reignited their passion for learning. This journey has transformed the educational experience, infusing it with enthusiasm and a deeper appreciation for the joy of learning. As we build on these remarkable successes, we are excited to explore new avenues to further enrich our program:

  • Partnership with WIDA: In partnership with WIDA, renowned for its expertise in multilingual education, the Lavinia Group is excited to offer essential support for multilingual learners this summer. Through this collaboration, educators will participate in a two-hour professional development session led by WIDA during teacher training week. Attendees will gain access to tangible strategies and specialized tools to effectively support students with diverse language backgrounds, along with accompanying resources shared by WIDA for use throughout the summer.
  • Decodable Books: Schools can now supplement early reading instruction with Lavinia Group’s RedThread Readers. The multicultural decodable series features diverse characters and stories that make it fun to decode.
  • Phonics Pre- and Post- Assessments: Lavinia Group has added a new ELA phonics assessment for Rising 1st and 2nd grade students to capture and provide more accurate data on foundational reading skills.
  • Leader Cohorts & Optional On-site Coaching: Optional weekly leader cohorts foster a collaborative community among summer school leaders, providing a platform for sharing best practices and addressing common summer learning challenges. Guided by a coach from the Lavinia Group, these virtual sessions create a supportive environment for leaders to exchange insights and strategies. Additionally, on-site instructional coaching visits to schools this summer will further enhance math and literacy skills growth initiatives.

At the heart of our mission lies a deep commitment to our students and educators. Through these initiatives, we embrace a journey of continuous improvement and innovation in education. Our dedication to expanding and refining our offerings stems from a profound desire to enhance the RISE program's positive impact. Our ultimate goal is to empower every student and teacher, igniting a sense of inspiration and readiness to embark on a new school year filled with boundless opportunities for growth and achievement.

Featured Contributor

Julia Pockros

Julia is a dedicated educator, curriculum writer, and instructional leader with a strong commitment to advancing equitable outcomes for all students. She launched her teaching career as a 4th-grade literacy teacher in Washington D.C., where she guided her students to remarkable achievements, with 85% reaching proficiency on the PARCC exam, compared to the statewide average of 38%. Julia has continued to make a positive impact in public charter schools across New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Detroit. She holds a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, a Masters in Education Leadership from Relay Graduate School of Education, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Vanderbilt University.

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