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Year-Round Learning: Transforming the Summer Slump into a Springboard for Success

One of my greatest sources of pride in the Kairos community is our ability to deliver strong academic growth across every group of students. After several years of uneven pandemic-era learning, parents and teachers are rightfully concerned about whether or not students are on track and what schools can do to combat learning loss–especially during summer breaks.

At Kairos Academies, we’re committed to a year-round learning model because it keeps students growing:

  • #3 Charter Middle School in Missouri - 2023 (U.S. News & World Report)

  • #1 LEA in St. Louis for improvement in black student performance (2023 MAP Scores)

  • #1 LEA in St. Louis for student growth in science (2023 MAP Scores)

  • #3 Open Enrollment High School in St. Louis for student growth and achievement (2023 MAP Scores)

Our academic cycles are spaced so that students and teachers have multiple breaks spread throughout the year. Students are free to recharge, and staff review academic data and make adjustments to close the gap for every student. Kairos students are learning in class all the way through the end of June–transforming the summer slump into a springboard for success.

But what does summer learning actually look like at Kairos? The research tells us that in order for summer learning to deliver real academic benefit, it should last at least five weeks, including at least 3 hours of daily instruction, and offer a mix of learning and engaging extracurricular activities–Kairos checks all three boxes.

I’ve been walking through our schools daily this month to listen and observe. At our Middle School, I had the privilege of sitting with several students and staff to learn more about what they’re working on and how Kairos keeps them engaged and growing.

A middle school student sits in the school library
Mohamad, KAMS 7th Grade Student

Ms. Allyson Anthony, an Instructional Director, explained, “The extended school year serves two purposes. First, it gives our staff time throughout the year to sharpen our skills and make continuous adjustments, so we see more growth in a shorter amount of time. Second, it gives us the ability to ensure scholars are receiving the targeted, personalized support they need–whether that’s acceleration or remediation. It’s important that every student finishes the year able to meet the standards for their grade level.”

For Kairos seventh grader, Mohamad, the extra learning time has meant an opportunity to get a headstart on advanced concepts. “So in June, for science, we’ve been learning about genetics and heredity–what chromosomes are, what makes up alleles. This is all extra. This is preparing us for what we’re going to learn in ninth and tenth grade.”

A middle school student sits in the library, gesturing with his hand
Tamell, KAMS 7th Grade Student

Another seventh grader, Tamell, was excited to share that extra support from his history teacher had helped him get on track. “My history teacher really cares about how you’re doing your work…wanting it neat, wanting it right. I’m really happy that my grade is up to par in his class.” Tamell told me daily encouragement from his mom reminded him that every single choice he makes has an impact on his future. “I want to do something in my career–do something with my life. I want to make my mom and my family proud of me.”

Of course, we know that interrupting what would traditionally be summer vacation means our programming should offer opportunities for joy and personal connection. Mohamad was especially grateful for the extra time to socialize with friends after a busy school year, while Tamell enjoyed breaks to play games with his friends and teachers. 

Allyson summarized the experience this way: “Scholars have been diving in beyond the traditional curriculum…they’re extending their English poetry unit so they can write lyrics for a poetry slam…they’re even expanding their math skills by budgeting for a simulated summer vacation. This time really allows us to make the learning more hands-on, more interesting, and allow scholars to be their creative selves.”


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