The greatest challenge that schools face today, in spite of the best efforts of many, is the persistent achievement gap between high and low achieving students. According to researcher Karl Alexander from Johns Hopkins University, 2/3rds of the achievement gap, by the time a student enters 9th grade, is due to the lack of high-quality summer learning experiences for low achieving students.
Explanation: Low achieving students lose about one month of achievement during the summer (summer learning loss). High achieving students gain about two months of achievement due to engaging and enriching activities. The resulting Achievement Gap between high and low achieving students is approximately three months greater in September than in June. Over nine years (Kindergarten to 9th grade) that is a total of 27 months or approximately two and a half years. He also found that low and high achieving students during the school year progress about equally.
HOW Shader Croft addresses the Achievement Gap
Shader Croft School helps at-risk adolescents improve their literacy skills and, in turn, increase their chances of success in school. Our unique program design quickly engages students in the instruction of reading fluency and comprehension, vocabulary development, oral and written expression and youth development. Students identify something they are curious about and plan an adventure into the community to meet and learn from someone who shares that interest. The students read, write, and speak about the experiences, building skills and confidence in all areas. This has shown to be highly effective due to the student-centered, experiential and community-based design along with the integrated instructional model used. These community-based adventures are designed and led by the students which help them develop strong leadership and personal skills. Our program format also parallels the Personalized Learning Plan format schools are now adopting.
RESULTS of our work to address the Gap
In 2019, Shader Croft School contracted with Peer Associates, of Richmond, Vermont, an independent research firm, to conduct an external evaluation to assess the impact of the Shader Croft Summer Literacy program in the areas of reading comprehension and youth development. Shader Croft conducted two separate and distinct programs for students in 2019: a general and special education program and an ELL (English Language Learners) program. Each program was evaluated separately.
The analysis done by Peer Research found preliminary, quantitative and qualitative evidence as follows:
- Shader Croft can have a measurable impact on participants’ literacy standardized test scores, particularly for ELL high school students but also ELL middle school students as determined by school spring and fall reading comprehension assessment measures
- Shader Croft general education students had a slight increase in reading scores between spring and fall, while their peer students had a statistically significant summer slide.
- Confidence building in learning and endurance to pursue difficult tasks was a key outcome in youth development skills.
- Many students mentioned benefiting from improved language, learning and social skills.
Read the full “Summary of Evaluation Findings – The Shader Croft School 2019” for additional findings on each program.
In the early years, we knew the program was impactful because the students, their teachers and their parents told us it was. Qualitative data gathered from students, parents and teachers since 2011 reflects gains in multiple literacy and youth and social emotional development areas as reflected in these graphs.
The student-centered and experiential design of the Shader Croft program, focusing on literacy skill development (reading fluency and comprehension, word knowledge and oral and written expression) and youth and social emotional development, employed via an integrated and focused instructional model, brings results, as validated by these many data points.
Summer experiences, or lack of, is a major contributor to the Achievement Gap. It accounts for 2/3rds of the Achievement Gap. The other 1/3rd is due to the difference in achievement levels when children start kindergarten.
Programming For Students
Shader Croft offers two different literacy-focused summer programs. One program is specifically for ELL students and one is for General and Special Education students.
Services For Schools
Shader Croft offers consulting services to help schools develop their own research based summer literacy program and professional development learning opportunities to support such programming.
English Language Learners
For new Americans, developing language skills is critical to their success in their new country. Shader Croft’s small group sizes and community-based experiences provide them with both context and practice that accelerates their language acquisition and much more.
General and Special Education Services
Students who are seeking to bring their reading, writing and oral communication skills up to grade level find Shader Croft very helpful. It has also helped them develop the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in school and the community.
Shader Croft has been helping students since 2001 improve their literacy skills and social and emotional competence. Our program is not the typical summer enrichment or remedial program. It is thoughtfully designed based upon solid research in a variety of different areas.
Professional Development Services
Shader Croft has developed professional learning opportunities for educators that range from in-service programs to graduate level coursework. All of these learning opportunities are research based and reflect what we have learned and discovered from our summer programming since 2001.
Shader Croft is a research-based program. We use research from many different areas and apply it throughout the program to create an effective integrated whole. These resources are a sampling on which we base our program design and instructional practices.
Shader Croft School
- Shader Croft School Survey Results 2011-2018
2011 Assessment Chart Annotated
2012 School Survey Results
2014 School Survey Results
2015 School Survey Results
2016 School Survey Results
2017 School Survey Results
2018 School Survey Results
- “Summary of Evaluation Findings – The Shader Croft School 2019” – PEER Associates
Summer Achievement Gap
- “Development During Adolescence: The Impact of Stage-Environment Fit on Young Adolescents”
- Carol Dweck’s, Development of Ability Conceptions
- Dweck’s fixed and growth mind-set
- Dynamic skill Theory and development
- Dynamic skill theory for ELL students and teachers
- Emotion and cognition
- Experiential education
- Experiential Learning
- Experiential Learning Theory
- Gates Foundation research on effective instruction
- Neuro science and Dynamic Skill Theory explained and applied
- “Useable Knowledge” – Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development