Baltimore City Public Schools and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth will offer an academic enrichment and performance program this summer for 180 elementary school students with high academic potential in West and Southeast Baltimore.
Baltimore City Public Schools was awarded a $400,000 Learning in Extended Academic Program grant, or LEAP grant, from the Maryland State Department of Education that will expand and strengthen the long-time partnership between the district and CTY, which has 40 years of experience providing out-of-school learning to bright students. The goal of the grant is to help close the excellence gap—the disparity between lower-income and higher-income students who reach advanced levels of academic performance—by fostering critical thinking and teaching other skills to increase the number of students identified as academically gifted or advanced in city schools.
The grant will fund free learning sites at Gwynns Falls Elementary School in West Baltimore and Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School in Southeast Baltimore. Students who attend schools in these areas will be invited to attend. During the six-week CTY Baltimore Emerging Scholars Summer Program, students in grades 1-3 will work in small, interdisciplinary classes focused on writing, science, and math and will receive highly individualized attention as they explore hands-on learning.
"We're excited about the opportunity to reach Baltimore City students this summer with advanced—and fun—curriculum," said Amy Shelton, CTY's interim executive director and director of research. "Research shows that the younger we can provide this enrichment, the more likely we are to have a meaningful impact."
Added Sean Conley, chief academic officer for BCPS: "Students with high potential, no matter where they live, deserve to be challenged and prepared for gifted services at school. This summer program does just that. As City Schools works to identify more gifted students and offer more equitable access to gifted learning opportunities across the district, we want to thank CTY for their ongoing support and partnership that now extends beyond the school year into the summer."
Students' progress will be evaluated throughout the summer to measure the programs' effectiveness. In addition, the program will also provide resources to parents, especially for students from minority groups and low socioeconomic status communities. These will include weekly parent workshops as well as online resources to help children continue their academic growth.
The grant builds on a growing partnership between BCPS and CTY, which started with the CTY Baltimore Emerging Scholars Program, a free, 25-week school-based program dedicated to identifying bright Baltimore City elementary students and developing their academic talents. The program has grown from two schools in 2014 to 16 schools reaching 500 second-, third-, and fourth-graders today.