Tuscaloosa City Schools' investment in beating the dreaded "summer slide" was recognized as among the best in the nation this week with a prestigious award that comes with a $10,000 grant.

TCS shared the good news in a Friday afternoon press release - the New York Life Foundation has awarded TCS one of its Excellence in Summer Learning Awards - just entities across the country received the honor and TCS was the only school system among the honorees.

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Just six years old, the current TCS Summer Learning Academies were an intentional shift away from traditional "summer school" programs and participation has exploded - the system said 550 students participated in 2017 and that number grew to more than 3,000 in 2023, including more than 40 percent of the system's entire elementary school population.

It has also made a measurable impact on the much-dreaded "summer slide" - TCS said three of every four students who attended at least 75 percent of a summer learning program showed no "learning loss" over the summer.

“This national award is deeply validating of both the scope and the quality of work that Tuscaloosa City Schools is doing in Summer Learning,” said Dr. Andrew Maxey, director of Strategic Initiatives for TCS. “Over the last six years, TCS has been committed to summer learning as a core strategy in advancing our mission.”

The recognition comes four years after Mayor Walt Maddox pledged funds from his Elevate Tuscaloosa sales tax plan to support summer learning, universal Pre-K and dual enrollment initiatives in Tuscaloosa City Schools. The Summer Learning Program was given $286,110 for in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget the Tuscaloosa City Council adopted earlier this week.

As an award winner, TCS Summer Learning will receive a $10,000 grant.

“Not only are we well on our way to "normalizing" summer learning in our community, but this external recognition confirms what we have known internally for some time: the quality of this work is very high,” Maxey said. “Stay tuned: we are just getting started!

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