Schools across the nation are preparing to close out the regular academic year, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) which ends on June 5, but for students in Miami-Dade, learning and academic enrichment will continue throughout the summer.

For the third consecutive year, from July 7 through Aug. 1, M-DCPS will provide students and parents with virtual access to summer learning tools 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Student Portal at dadeschools.net
An alternative to summer boredom, inactivity and isolation, iSummer: Learning On-the-Go, will allow students in kindergarten through 12th grades to practice and apply what they learned during the regular school year and explore new concepts.

Access to iSummer learning activities is made simple and easy through smartphones and other mobile devices, which most students do not venture too far without.

Students can engage in academic enrichment just as easily in the family car as they can at home at the family computer. High school students who may not have mobile devices or computers at home, will still be able to benefit from online summer learning by visiting media centers at any senior high adult education center. 

Providing opportunities to continue the academic process beyond the standard school year is an effective strategy toward closing the achievement gap among students.

For some students, the lack of access to enriching summer activities results in their falling weeks, if not months, behind their peers. In effect, summers without meaningful learning opportunities are cumulative and the achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students grows wider with each passing year.

Conversely, high-quality summer programs are pivotal toward preventing summer learning loss, which occurs when students are not engaged in programs that strengthen and reinforce learning. In fact, research indicates that summer learning programs often help students maintain or even increase their academic skills over the summer months, especially in reading.

Through personal mobile devices and partnerships with community-based organizations that provide

internet connectivity, students can access Miami-Dade’s iSummer online learning tools, software applications and games which have been developed to help boost student achievement, and promote other aspects that contribute to a child’s development such as character building, career development and critical thinking.

In an effort to erase the digital divide, another unique aspect of Miami-Dade’s summer session is that eligible students will have access to tablet computers that they may check out from their schools. Additionally, online resources will be available to selected high school students to help them prepare for Algebra I End of Course and the ACT Reading assessments. 

Targeted educational services also will be offered at selected school sites during the summer session. Designed to assist students in meeting academic grade level requirements, on site instructional courses for selected elementary school students will cover reading comprehension, literacy and instructional writing.

At the secondary level, course credit recovery will be offered in math, language arts, science and social studies.

Registration for the 2014 Summer Services began May 19 and continues through July 8. Parents and students may visit dadeschools.net for more information regarding summer session registration and online and on site course offerings.

Valtena G. Brown is chief operating officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.