Fresno summer academic programs aim to close learning gap

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The African American Academic Acceleration (A4) is launching its fourth annual summer program. It serves 500 Fresno Unified students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade who are below grade level to proficiency and beyond.

"We focus on reading primarily because we know that if a student does not reach proficiency or reading by third grade, they're more likely not to graduate from high school," said Tonisha Hargrove-Williams, the interim co-director of A4.

Only 27 percent of Black third grade students in Fresno Unified are proficient in English Language Arts, according to the California Department of Education. It's the lowest number out of all racial groups.

"We provide the support necessary to change that stat," said Hargrove-Williams.

The four-week-long intensive literacy program has been part of the summer program since its inception. Every day, students read one-on-one with a teacher and work on writing lessons in small groups.

"Students really do become stronger readers through the program...and it helps them shine within the classroom," said Tuwanda Harris, a teacher within the program. "They're not as afraid to be outspoken, they're not as afraid to be engaged in lessons."

The program isn't just for students, parents are in on it too. Weekly workshops show parents how they can help their children read.

"It's another thing to know that if my parent is just as concerned, and wants me to do great at this, then I will do better," Harris said.

This summer, A4 is adding math and kindergarten readiness in the hopes of giving Black students a more equitable start to their academic careers.

According to a press release from Fresno Unified School District, "The Summer Math Camp is a three-week virtual program that will teach fifth and sixth-grade students how to code and make a simple video game by using math and fractions. They will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with gaming experts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals. A4 will host weekly workshops to help parents learn math and coding concepts so they can better support their students. The goal is to create a learning experience for 100 students that fosters positive attitudes around math."

The Kinder Readiness Summer Academy is a four-week program that will focus on preparing incoming kindergartners for school in August.

The programs also come up with individual action plans for each student.

"Regardless of your background and where you come from, you can learn," said Hargrove-Williams.

If you are interested in registering your child in the summer programs, contact A4SUMMER@FRESNOUNIFIED.ORG or call 559-457-3728

Summer Literacy Program (June 14-July 14)

Ayer, King, Thomas, Williams Elementaries.

Summer Math Camp June 14-July 2

Virtual

Kinder Readiness Summer Academy July 6-Aug. 3

Kirk and Thomas elementary schools
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