In summer 2010, Freedom School Partners contracted with The Center for Adolescent Literacies at UNC Charlotte to evaluate its Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® programs and determine the program’s impact on the reading ability of students served in Charlotte. FSP served approximately 550 students at ten sites for six to seven weeks during summer 2010. Students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade engaged in the literacy-based CDF Freedom Schools curriculum.

Evaluators assessed students using the Basic Reading Inventory 10th Edition (Johns, 2008), an individually administered informal reading inventory with multiple measures used to assess facets of reading. 132 of the 550 scholars (24%) participated in the pre- and post-test evaluation.

Finding Highlights

The CDF Freedom Schools program prevented summer learning loss for 90% of participants.

  • Approximately 65% of Freedom School scholars showed moderate to significant gains in their ability to read.
  • Gains were made by all age groups. On average, students in K – 2nd grade gained half a year in reading ability, and students in 3rd through 8th grade gained over a year in reading ability.
  • Approximately 25% of scholars maintained their reading levels, whereas most low-income students lose two to three months reading ability during the summer months.


In open-ended questions, students said they valued the program’s reading strategies, creative activities, books and different genres of books, and the sense of community felt while in the Freedom Schools program.


Students’ comments when asked about Freedom School include:


“We read stories that a lot of us can relate to.”


 “You get to read one page of the book out loud. I think it's cool.”


“I like when they talked about Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.”


“Why it’s called Freedom School . . . we get freedom to do stuff that’s fun, to express ourselves, and to read aloud.”


To learn more about Freedom School Partners or to access the full evaluation report, visit