Dozens of students filed into Cascade Elementary School Wednesday morning for their first day of the month-long summer Academic Recovery Academy (ARA). About half of the students and teachers are from Cascade while the other half come from neighboring Lenora P. Miles Elementary School.

The full-day five day a week program is designed to address the academic and social backsliding that many students experienced due to the pandemic. Teachers will focus on English Language Arts, Mathematics and Social Emotional Learning.

With students and staff in the buildings, schools are continuing to take COVID-19 transmission precautions including temperature checks, social distancing, plastic dividers between desks and symptom-screening.

In-person and virtual summer school was offered for all students with over 80 percent choosing the in-person option. Eleven thousand students across Atlanta Public Schools (APS) enrolled in the A.R.A. this summer, a 33 percent increase from the Power Up Summer Session in 2019. Over 300 students enrolled for Cascade’s summer program alone.

“We have more students here for academic recovery than for Power Up because our parents see more of a need,” said Miles Elementary School Principal Thalise Perry.

Students at Cascade will be evaluated with an i-Ready assessment given at the beginning and the end of the program.

“We’ll be able to see where they started and where they ended as a result of the assessment,” said Cascade Principal Tiffany Momon. Teachers will use the assessment data to tailor their lessons to the students’ needs.

The summer A.R.A. program is at 37 schools this year including 27 elementary, five middle and five high schools. The six-week long enrollment period was open to all APS students with some students invited and encouraged to sign-up.

Miles invited students based on STAR reading and math scores and Cascade invited all students deemed to be two grade-levels behind.

“There is definitely a benefit for students to participate in face-to-face learning,” said Momon who added that students have definitely experienced learning loss.
Momon said the A.R.A. program will allow students to be successful when the material they learn in the upcoming school year builds upon some of the concepts that might otherwise have been lost.

Perry added that academic recovery is happening in and out of the school building. “I had several parents contact me about learning loss to ask what they could do better. The community is definitely excited about academic recovery.”

All students participating in the summer program will receive breakfast and lunch everyday for free. Every Friday students will be given a two-day meal kit for breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.

Temica Cook has her second graders share their pledges for the month of June. (Photo Credit: Madeline Thigpen/The Atlanta Voice)
Temica Cook has her second graders share their pledges for the month of June. (Photo Credit: Madeline Thigpen/The Atlanta Voice)

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