ESSER-Funded Summer Programs in Connecticut School Districts
The COVID pandemic has had a dramatic effect on students and educators. The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) and the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE), through the leadership of Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, anticipated the need for significant support to address this impact. As a result, CAPSS and the SDE formed a partnership to establish a cadre of retired superintendents to serve districts receiving Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds by acting as ESSER advisors.
The learning loss suffered by students has been substantial. Through their work with school districts, ESSER advisors recognized that a significant strategy devised by educators to make up for this learning loss has been to greatly expand the quality and quantity of summer learning programs. This expansion was made possible in large part by the unprecedented amount of money sent to the state under the various federal ESSER grants.
In the spring of 2022, CAPSS contacted districts regarding summer programs they had created that they thought were significant and effective in addressing this learning loss issue, and districts across Connecticut responded.
During the summer of 2022, CAPSS’ ESSER advisors visited many districts to observe and learn about their program(s). What we learned was amazing! In the following pages you will be introduced to an assortment of creative, innovative, and effective programs developed by educators throughout the state. Some highlights include:
- Programs addressing basic skills and emotional learning using highly engaging, active learning strategies and material with students moving and learning. (Crime scene investigators, robotic construction and programming, medical training, creating treasure maps, marine research, gardening, theater, etc., etc.)
- Students eagerly attending the programs while demonstrating remarkable independence and enthusiasm.
- Programs partnering with community agencies and agencies to make the programs comprehensive and expansive.
- Programs that were highly structured and consistent but also creative and innovative (and fun!).
- Programs that encouraged teachers to create and utilize new and creative strategies to address curriculum standards. (A professional learning and testing laboratory).
- Programs so comprehensive that parents flocked to them as they were meeting not only their child’s learning needs but providing essential daycare as well.
- High school programs that allowed students to make up work, gave incoming students a leg up on freshman year and gave upper-grade students an opportunity to earn college credits.
We are so pleased to share with you just a sample of these fantastic summer programs experienced by students across Connecticut. In the following pages, CAPSS has selected a representative selection of programs for introduction. Finally, contact information is available for each program. All participants are eager to share detailed program information with any interested party and welcome your inquiries.