Arizona Plans Second Year of Summer Camp to Help Kids Recover From Learning Loss

The announcement happened one day after the National Assessment of Education Progress released its test scores.
Child Doing Artwork With Leaves
Photo: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

(The Center Square) – Arizona will fund the AZ OnTrack Summer Camp for a second year.

Governor Doug Ducey announced this at the Chris-Town YMCA on Tuesday this week.

It was one of several AZ OnTrack camp hosts this past summer.

The announcement happened one day after the National Assessment of Education Progress released its test scores. It found a six-point drop in fourth-grade math scores, a nine-point drop in eighth-grade math scores, and a one-point drop in eighth-grade reading scores for Arizona students since 2019 — the last time the state administered these tests.

“In light of this barometer of our kids’ success, there’s no time to waste to catch our kids up. We must continue to pour on the gas in our efforts,” Ducey said in a press release. “We know our kids lost ground during the pandemic – it was not good for them. In Arizona, we kept schools open, made critical investments in literacy programs and launched a summer camp to prevent further learning loss. Another round of AZ OnTrack Summer Camp is exactly what our kids need.”

Damon Olsen, CEO of the Prescott YMCA of Yavapai County, called the extension of the OnTrack summer camp program a “game changer” He said that it allowed his YMCA to hire certified teachers to help students learn.

Last summer, more than 70,000 campers across 685 camps in all 15 counties used the OnTrack program to catch up on math, reading, and American civics. Some students even participated in multiple camps.

The governor’s office says that 86% of camp participants “either made progress toward, met, or exceeded” the learning goals set for them at camp.

Students in higher grades earned more than 5,300 academic credits, helping them stay on track for graduation.

Eighty-seven percent of parents said the AZ OnTrack camps helped their families, and 70% said they made their children feel more excited to go back to school, according to the governor’s office.

“This summer, we opened the doors for our kids to catch up on their learning in fun, engaging environments,” Lisa Graham Keegan, AZ OnTrack chair and former state schools superintendent, said in the release. “We saw how reconnecting students with their teachers, their school work and their peers reinvigorated their love of learning. Governor Ducey’s decision to fund AZ OnTrack for another successful summer shows his understanding that the only way to make up for lost time is to add time. I am so grateful for his dedication to Arizona’s parents, educators and students.”

Ducey said the camp plays a vital role in eliminating the learning loss demonstrated by the National Assessment of Education Progress report.

“There are some silver linings to these results,” the governor said in a press release. “It’s encouraging that reading scores remained level. Kids have to learn to read before they can read to learn. With critical investments like AZ OnTrack Summer Camp, we intervened and helped kids reignite their love of learning that was disrupted by the pandemic.”

More details about next year’s camp will be announced at a later time, according to the governor’s office.

This story was originally published by The Center Square and used with permission.

Tom Joyce
Tom Joyce is a contributor for The Center Square.

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