Because of your support, Higher Achievement remains a positive, constant presence for our scholars as they go back to school. This year, we will implement rigorous and engaging academic enrichment programming through a virtual model that will support our scholars throughout distance learning.
Our strategy responds to the needs of scholars and schools and is built upon data-driven research from our own virtual programming in the spring and summer, and from the schools and communities we serve.
- Prince George’s County summer pilot. This summer, 120 students from four middle schools in Prince George’s County, MD participated in Higher Achievement programming over four weeks and were led by full-time staff who received comprehensive and ongoing teacher training. Students received two 75–minute classes per week, one in math and one in ELA, with an average attendance rate of 72%. Students and families received orientation, reminders, newsletters, and positive incentives to participate.
- Spring virtual program launch and summer programming pilots. Staff led virtual programming in the spring and summer, piloting academic enrichment programs, mentor-led teaching, and activities to engage scholars. Scholars and mentors were surveyed at the end of summer programming to assess where programming excelled, and where there were unmet needs.
- One-on-one family meetings. This summer, staff conducted over 523 one-on-one meetings with families and scholars, giving scholars the opportunity to reflect on the shift to virtual learning and define goals for the year ahead.
- Plans from school districts and national education reports. As schools crafted reopening plans, Higher Achievement worked closely with principals, teachers, and school districts to advocate on behalf of scholars and their families and identify areas where our programming can offer support.
- Parents need support with virtual learning. Parents need help with providing academic support and keeping their children engaged with their education during the school day.
- Schools need support increasing attendance and participation. Schools are seeing a drastic drop in logging in to asynchronous learning in low-income zip codes.
- Youth need academic and SEL support. Students are feeling disconnected from peers and schools.
- Teachers are overwhelmed. Staff development is inconsistent, and some teachers are feeling unprepared for the change to distance learning.
The Response: Higher Achievement Fall Programming
Scholars will receive at least three core programs per week: staff-led math, mentor-led English language arts and high school placement, and community meeting. Programming will meet the needs of scholars and schools by incorporating into the virtual school day, with programming taking place during and after school time.
- Math Pods: Math enrichment is identified as the highest need for scholars. To meet this need, staff will lead small groups of scholars in review and practice based on in-school learning. Pods will form with the goal of grouping scholars from the same school, at the same grade level, and with the same math teacher. Higher Achievement staff will engage teachers in deeper and more frequent communication to ensure scholar’s needs are met and our programming is aligned.
- English Language Arts and High School Placement: Mentors will lead English language arts enrichment for 6th and 7th-grade scholars, and high school placement planning conversations with 8th-grade scholars. Mentors will lead ELA enrichment for 8th-grade scholars after high school placement is completed.
- Community Meeting. Scholars will stay connected with their peers and Higher Achievement through fun and engaging community meetings.
Programming will feature content that is rooted in social justice, aligned to in-school learning, grounded in relationship-focused mentoring, and reflected in short and powerful lessons with gamification throughout to keep scholars engaged.
Pandemic closures and virtual learning have increased the obstacles to success facing families and scholars, but your support enables Higher Achievement to help close these gaps and sustain critical connections.