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Officials: summer school is successful

October 07, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Not all Washington County students asked to attend summer school took advantage of the different grade level programs, but school officials said the program was successful anyway.

Washington County Public Schools' nonmandatory summer school programs aim to help students get higher reading, functional and subject test scores through intense summer sessions that may help the students advance to a higher grade level.

All 25 county elementary schools held a summer reading program this year for the first time. About 55 percent of students showed improvement in their reading level based on pre- and post-reading surveys, said JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, executive director of elementary education for schools.

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"The teachers who worked with the students were pleased," she said.

Brown said that in future years the schools will try to pinpoint a common date for all elementary schools to hold summer classes. This year it was up to each school to decide when sessions would be held.

The sessions, offered only to students between their second- and third-grade years, are aimed at children who have difficulty reading at their grade level as mandated by the state and county, she said.

Students are asked to read for information in the third grade, a higher standard than that of lower grades where learning to read is key, so the session targets the transition, Brown said.

Teachers also looked at children's' attitudes toward reading - whether they were eager to read or not, for instance.

Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent of schools, said summer school is a good opportunity for students to get more time with teachers and books and more chance for social development

In the eight county middle schools, 967 students were told summer school might improve their chances of being promoted to the next grade or that scores on functional tests could rise if they attended. Only 568 chose to take advantage of the classes, said Boyd Michael III, executive director of secondary education for schools.

He said vacation plans or having test scores that were close to meeting requirements for passing and could be improved the next year were likely reasons students didn't come.

He said it will be up to schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, the county School Board and available funding to determine whether summer school is made mandatory.

In the high schools, 234 students attended summer school.

Those numbers reflect a higher attendance than last year, but lower than in past years. Since summer session is optional for high school students, Michael said the numbers don't mean much, although officials would like to see more students attend.

He said the four-period school day provides additional opportunities for students to make up credits during the school year.

Michael said there are some students who are given permission to take summer classes for original credit, meaning they're not making up a class but earning full credit for it. Such is the case with juniors who want to graduate a year earlier than their classmates.

"High school summer school is going to revolve around high school assessments," Michael said.

Michael said although school personnel would like to see more students taking advantage of summer school, teachers had a lot of students to work with this year.

"I think we feel satisfied with the quality of our programs and the success of the students who attended them," Abernethy said.

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