Summer school to invite more students

April 10, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM


More Washington County Public Schools students are expected to enroll in summer school this year.

Officials are inviting more students and touting a beefed-up program as a reason more will want to attend.

"(This is really) summer school on steroids, compared to the past," Washington County Board of Education Member Bernadette Wagner said.

About 370 incoming first-, second- and third-grade students will be able to enroll in summer school, said Jill Burkhart, acting director of elementary education. Of those, only 100 will be open to students not enrolled at Title I schools.

There also will be 40 to 60 spaces open for prekindergarten and kindergarten students.

Officials said 272 kindergarten, first- and second-graders were invited to summer school last year, 52 fewer students than in 2005. Of the 219 who chose to attend, 190 completed the program.


Officials said that the number of sites last year was cut by at least five, and about 250 fewer elementary and middle school students participated due to a more selective process.

Shelli Gest, coordinator for accelerated learning, said parents whose children are invited to attend summer school this summer should be notified soon, if they have not been already.

Students are recommended for summer school based on performance on assessment tests and in-class work. Curriculum covered during the summer sessions will focus on what students should have learned this school year and what they will be expected to learn in the upcoming school year, Gest said.

The 12-day program will run from July 16 to Aug. 2, and the school days were extended over last year's schedule, she said. Students will attend summer sessions from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and before- and after-school care will be provided.

The school days are longer, and more extensive training for teachers will be offered, Gest said.

"I think staff worked really hard to look at all obstacles that exist, and in some cases, we want students to attend (summer school) and they have not attended, so we wanted to eliminate all obstacles," Board President Roxanne R. Ober said.

The daily schedule for elementary school students will include math and language arts, as it did last year, but Gest said interventions and enrichment will be added this summer. Students also will have physical education, music, art or media each day, which is a change from last year.

"We're trying to get that well-rounded child," she said.Students in middle school will have similar options of art, technology or music, science and social studies. Acting director of secondary education Clyde Harrell said physical education could be offered daily for middle school students.

More than 600 students in all grades could be enrolled in the middle school summer sessions, which will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 16 days from July 9 to Aug. 2.

The elementary school summer program will cost about $125,700, and there was not expected to be an increase in transportation costs over last year. The cost of summer school transportation for elementary and middle school programs will be $110,000.

All students from Title I schools will be bused to the site, which will be Salem Avenue Elementary for the elementary programs. Every middle school in the county will have summer school offerings.

Students attending non-Title I schools will use bus depots at Boonsboro, Clear Spring, Old Forge, Smithsburg and Williamsport elementary schools, according to a presentation to the Board of Education.

Students in the elementary and middle school summer school programs do not receive school credits for the courses, but are given a test before and after summer school to track their progress.

Last year, about 57 percent of elementary students maintained their reading levels after completing summer school, officials said. About 22 percent improved their reading skills, and 20 percent did not maintain their skill levels or improve.

About 21 percent of elementary students maintained their literacy levels after completing summer school, and 76.8 percent improved. Of the elementary students enrolled in the math program, 12.2 percent maintained their skill levels and 80.4 percent improved, according to data released last year.

Of the 344 middle school students who completed the reading program, 39.5 percent maintained their skill levels, 38.4 percent improved their skill levels and about 22 percent did not maintain or improve their skill levels, officials have said.

Of the 386 students who completed the middle school math program, 6.7 percent maintained their skill levels, and 87.6 percent improved, officials have said.

Harrell said high school students typically sign up for one course over the summer and pay a $100 fee for Washington County residents. They are not invited based on academic need, and can enroll up to the date that summer school begins.

"It's all about earning credits at the high school level," he said. "They're trying to earn credits they didn't earn during the school year, to advance or to keep on track for graduation or to actually graduate."

English courses for all grade levels, three different social studies courses, science and math offerings will be available, Harrell said.

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