Access and Participation: Summer Learning Edition

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Tracking may in fact be a significant determining factor in polarizing some students' attitudes about themselves as winners and losers. 

-- Ansalone & Biafora  


Equity Alliance Online Special Feature

Frequently Asked Questions 

1.  Why is summer and out-of-school time learning important for students?

2. What does the research suggest about access to summer and out-of-school time learning?

3.  What are the best components of summer and out-of-school time learning programs?

4.  How might a school increase student participation in summer and out-of-school time learning programs?    

5.  What are some of the best ways to secure support for innovative summer and out-of-school learning opportunities?

Upcoming Events


CASE 9th Annual Legislative Leadership Seminar: Sustaining Excellence Through Special Education, July 17-20, 2011

The OSEP Project Directors Conference, July 18-20, 2011

National Council of La Raza is hosting the 2011 NCLR Annual Conference and the National Latino Family Expo, July 23-26, 2011  

OSEP Leadership Mega Conference August 01-03, 2011


Online Tools

Systemic Change Framework  Rubrics Assessment Handbook 


The Learning Carousel 

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Online Publications


Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling  


Changing the Odds for student success: What matters Most  

The Varied Faces of Gifted/Talented Students 

*These resources and many others can be found on our learning carousel.  For direct access to the Learning Carousel click on the icon below.



Featured Equity Friend


The Wallace Foundation


The Wallace Foundation supports and shares effective ideas and practices to improve learning and enrichment opportunities for children. Their vision is that children, particularly those living in distressed urban areas, have access to good schools and a variety of enrichment programs in and outside of school that prepare them to be contributing members of their communities.The mission of the Wallace Foundation is to improve learning and enrichment opportunities for children.


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Disparate school outcomes between groups of students continue to plague U.S schools.  Culturally and linguistically diverse students are less likely to graduate from high school, apply for, enter, and complete college. They are more likely than their white counterparts to be placed in Special Education and less likely to be placed in gifted education classes. Further, failure to engage girls in STEM subjects means that African American, Hispanic, and Native American women in particular are drastically underrepresented in the STEM field. Each of these (and many other) troubling outcomes can find roots in access to and participation in rigorous learning opportunities both within the school setting and outside school time.


A fundamental principle of inclusive learning environments is ensuring that all students are provided access to and meaningful participation in academic, social, and emotional learning opportunities.   Larger questions related to the cultural histories of education must be explored, by thinking about what access and participation means, for whom, and into what? (Artiles & Kozleski, 2007). Similarly, it is necessary to think about who benefits from developing an inclusive environment where all students are provided access and participation in culturally responsive learning opportunities.  


Recently, the LA Times featured the stories of how two high school students were spending their summers. One student spent much of his summer participating in tutoring, practice tests, and studying, while the other student engaged in pursuits such as summer camps, watching documentaries, and reading the sports section of the newspaper. Educators can value each of these students' experiences by developing curricular activities that embrace the knowledge and life experiences that students and their families bring with them to the classroom.


Learning does not only happen in school. The challenge for educators is to embrace the learning that occurs outside of school and use it to create spaces in which learning can occur in formal and informal education settings.  In fact, while some students' opportunities may fit seamlessly into the current school curriculum, many other students do not have those same experiences. Educators must continuously critique what is valued and work collaboratively with students and their families to develop learning opportunities that are enriching, engaging, and fitting for the community of learners.  


In this month's Equity Matters, we highlight resources and information about efforts to expand our notion of access and participation to learning opportunities both within and outside of typical learning times. Addressing issues of access and participation is a continuous effort that has profound effects on students who are typically marginalized in schools. We hope that our readers will continue to engage in ongoing learning about access and participation and will share these resources with your networks.


Artiles, A. J., & Kozleski, E. B. (2007). Beyond convictions: Interrogating culture, history, and power in inclusive education. Language Arts, 84(4), 357-364.


Carrington, S., & Robinson, R. (2006). Inclusive school community: Why is it so complex? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(4), 323-334.,0,4135704.story?page=2&utm_medium=feed&track=rss&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20latimes%2Fnews%2Feducation%20%28L.A.%20Times%20-%20Education%29&utm_source=feedburner  

Equity in Action

Service learning projects offer a fantastic opportunity for student engagement in summer and out-of-school time opportunities.  The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation (FDFF) has announced the formation of a Student Board of Advisors for their 2011-12 service-learning programs.  Students that will be entering grades 7-12 in fall 2011 are eligible to apply for a seat on the Board.  Fifty students from across the country that are interested in helping address the issue of human tracking (modern day slavery) will be selected to participate. 

The foundation is looking for outstanding young people to assist in creating service projects that will have a solid impact on this global dilemma, and are accepting applications beginning immediately.  The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation (FDFF) was co-founded in June 2007 by Nettie Washington Douglass and son Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. The FDFF exists to honor and preserve the legacy of Frederick Douglass and to create awareness about modern-day slavery in an effort to expedite its demise. 

Tools You Can Use

Things to Read   

Patterns and Profiles of Promising Learners From Poverty, edited by Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, covers a variety of topics pertinent to the education of students from low-income families, including the role of culture in education, curriculum for promising learners, psychosocial stressors that affect these learners, professional development for teachers of low-income students, and state policy implementations that affect these students' educations. Chapters look specifically at several types of learners from poverty, including rural and urban-area students, African American students, Caucasian students, and high nonverbal, low verbal students.  This book combines research and experience from leading scholars in the field of gifted education in a convenient guide for teachers, administrators, and gifted education program directors.


Identifying Gifted Students: A Practical Guide, edited by Susan Johnsen,  offers up-to-date information for building an effective, defensible identification process. It acts as a hands-on, research-based guide for identifying gifted and talented children. Designed for practicing professionals such as teachers, counselors, psychologists, and administrators who must make decisions daily about identifying and serving gifted and talented students, this book acts as a handbook for establishing procedures that are effective in identifying gifted and talented students from diverse backgrounds. This book should be very helpful to practitioners in establishing procedures that are effective in identifying gifted and talented students. 


Summer Learning: Research, Policies, and Programs by Geoffrey D. Borman, Matthew Boulay brings together up-to-date, research-based evidence concerning summer learning and provides descriptions and analyses of a range of summer school programs. The chapters present theory and data that explain both the phenomenon of summer learning loss and the potential for effective summer programs to mitigate loss and increase student achievement. This books is intended for education researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and graduate students; this volume is particularly relevant to those interested in social stratification, equity-minded policies, implications of the current standards movement and high stakes testing, and the development of programs and practices for improving education.

Things to Watch


Since 2001, PASE has worked with nearly 180 summer programs to capacity-build and strengthen their academic and literacy-building components, helping an estimated 15,000 young people bridge the summer learning gap.    



COMPUGIRLS provides fun summer and after-school classes where participants learn the latest technologies in digital media, games, and virtual worlds and become a voice for social justice and change in the world.

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