Arizona’s “All Hands on Deck” Statewide Summer Camp Push

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey established a new summer program and interactive online portal called Arizona OnTrack that will provide summer programs to make up for lost in-person instruction throughout the pandemic. The camps aim to provide services in key subject areas like math, reading, and civics in fun environments that combine learning with play similar to YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs “We have all hands on deck… we want to eliminate learning loss. Catch our kids up,” Ducey has said. According to the state’s website, eligible campers include students in need of credit recovery or those who have dropped out and wish to re-enroll. Moreover, the camps must prioritize enrollment for vulnerable students and provide up to eight weeks of programming. All summer programs are provided at no cost to families statewide and summer teaching positions are posted on the Arizona OnTrack website. According to the program director, camps have been directed to offer salaries 20% above average rates.

We are spotlighting this because the governor’s focus on academic interventions to address lost instructional time and strong teacher salaries are promising anchors for summer programming, especially under the hiring challenges that schools are facing.

Reviewer Analysis

Jocelyn Pickford

Arizona is prioritizing free summer opportunities for students most in need and requiring camp providers to collect and share data on participants and outcomes, which will allow for an evaluation of impact.

Southern Regional Education Board

The linking of learning to fun activities in the summer is a key aspect along with the use of both schools and community resources. The focus on teaching the content in a different way aligns with SREB beliefs. Free access and intentional targeting of at-risk students is critical.

Results for America

It is encouraging to see Arizona invest in summer learning programs that have a clear purpose, combine enrichment and academic instruction opportunities and will give students time to build relationships and deeply engage in learning.

The Bush Center

Using summer instruction - as part of a camp environment - is an interesting idea. As described, it does not feel like summer school. The premium for salaries is a smart strategy in this environment.

New Leaders

Arizona’s plan to prioritize the most vulnerable students for enrollment, with no cost to families, is very encouraging. To effectively address instructional loss, this plan will need to focus learning on major standards that will support students’ acceleration into the next grade-level.

TNTP

Arizona’s effort to provide summer learning opportunities to accelerate learning is noteworthy, especially considering that summer slide compounded with already lost in-person instructional time could further affect student learning outcomes. As Arizona has demonstrated, efforts should prioritize enrollment for students who need it most while eliminating cost barriers for families and recognizing the challenges to staffing require higher salaries.

EdAllies

We support this as a way of giving more learning time to students at no cost in an environment that is likely to balance the need for academic and social enrichment. Paying staff at high wages will also encourage educators to participate.

The Rural Alliance

What we like is the face2face social engagement for the students. There is a need to reestablish student socialization. Online learning is a piece of the blended educational future and provides a summer pilot for success.

National Parents Union

We like that there is a civic component. Our only question would be on whether they are making sure to have a diverse workforce?

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