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Alabama's SAIL network helps students see record gains in summer learning, academic performance

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

This morning, Our 360 News spoke with Suzy Harris, Program Director for the Birmingham-based Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) network, and Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews, Executive Director of BAMA Kids and SAIL participant, about SAIL's record-breaking success in helping students combat summer learning losses that were worsened by the pandemic.

Check out our interview above and read more about the SAIL network below.

The SAIL network was founded in 2012 to build support for rigorous summer learning across the state. SAIL facilitates assessments, peer learning, and funding opportunities for summer learning programs to ensure high-quality summer learning camps thrive in Alabama. SAIL also helps educational groups, faith-based foundations, and other community organizations to invest in rigorous summer learning programs, expand access to high-quality programs, and foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation between providers.

This summer, SAIL supported 35 independent summer learning programs enrolling more than 2,000 students across the state. Of those, 30 offered in-person classes, and five were virtual-only. Eighty-five percent of students who enrolled in a SAIL program this summer completed it, and the programs reported an average daily attendance of 84 percent. On average, SAIL students gained 3.2 months in math and 2.6 months in reading. Both totals represent record highs for academic growth since SAIL began testing students.

“Students, teachers, and families were eager to participate in a summer learning camp this year, and their enthusiasm translated into outstanding academic outcomes,” said Jim Wooten, chair of Summer Adventures in Learning.

“Like most school programs, SAIL is still feeling the impact of the pandemic. Enrollment was still below pre-pandemic levels, and we are increasing our use of online learning strategies into in-person programs. However, this summer demonstrates that blending the best approaches from summer camp with summer school appeals to students and families, and it works.”

This year’s students’ success is especially significant due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the 2020-2021 school year. According to pre-camp assessments, students began the summer with the lowest reading and math proficiency rates in SAIL’s history.

SAIL programs meet the gold standard for summer learning because they blend the best elements of traditional schools and summer camps to produce academic growth as the students enjoy camp. SAIL does not require its programs to follow a specific curriculum. This flexibility allows each site to design a summer learning program that meets students where they are academically, is tailored to the child’s interests, and addresses the needs of the whole child. On average, SAIL students received 35 hours in reading and 43 hours in math instruction this summer.

To view a list of programs receiving SAIL funding in Birmingham:

To view a list of programs receiving SAIL funding in Blackbelt:

To view a list of programs receiving SAIL funding in Huntsville/Madison County:




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