United Way continues to address learning loss in central Indiana


INDIANAPOLIS — The United Way of Central Indiana is working to address the learning loss that central Indiana students faced while learning from home.

“As a parent, I have four school-aged children and I was able to see myself the learning loss that happens, but we also know from data that the learning loss has hit some kids more than others,” said Sara VanSlambrook, Chief Impact Officer for the United Way of Central Indiana

Data from McKinsey and Company shows by the end of the 2020-2021 school year students were, on average, five months behind in math and four months behind in reading. The data also shows students of color and low-income students suffered the most.

To combat the learning loss, from June 21 through July 23, 2021, the United Way partnered with the Mind Trust to host summer learning labs at schools, community organizations and churches across Indianapolis. The goal was to boost student performance in English and math.

During the labs, 39 sites across Indianapolis served around 3,000 students. They performed assessments at the beginning and end of the program to access how the students improved during the program.

The assessments showed that students showed a 20 percentage point increase in basic and proficient scores of English/Language Arts performance and a 27 percentage point increase in basic and proficient scores of math performance.

The United Way of Central Indiana recently received $4,125,400.74 in additional funding from the Indiana Department of Education to continue its accelerated learning program.

“Our goal is to increase the number served by more than 50%,” said VanSlambrook. “We’re going to use the same curriculum, so really, focusing deeply on literature and on math and then supporting schools and community sites to be able to come alongside and offer enrichment, along with that, knowing that while the learning itself is critically important, so is the opportunity for kids to have fun and to grow as individuals with those enrichment opportunities too.”

More than 100 other community partners also received funding from the Indiana Department of Education as part of the Indiana Student Learning Recovery Grant Program. You can find details about how the funds were distributed by visiting the IDOE website.

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