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Recovering lost learning during a pandemic year, summer enrichment is a viable option

Posted at 7:03 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 20:03:27-04

BRAZOS VALLEY, TEXAS — Summer break may not be far from the minds of many, but for others, the threat of summer school looms. While some students are on 'summer break', many may be enrolled in summer school.

Educators across the Brazos Valley are looking to fill the gap from a year of learning unlike any other.

Looking for ways to help those who may have been falling behind or need a little extra enrichment to keep them engaged over the summer, educators across the Brazos Valley are doing what it takes.

Dr. Tramel with College Station ISD says looking through the lens of elementary school assessment, a plan of action was made, including tutoring during the year, as well as summer remediation school, and then a jump start camp right before school starts back up.

"We've got 3 different things at the elementary going on. We are just now working on those numbers. We anticipate, district-wide k-12, probably around 1,500 students based on what our data is telling us now. We are getting organized around that" Penny Tramel, Chief Academic Officer with CSISD added.

Tramel with CSISD says there has not been a traditional 'summer school' for their elementary grades in the past, so this is something new in place to help accelerate the learning for those grades and catch up.

CSISD has around 14,000 students throughout the district around 9% may be enrolling in summer school. Educators hope to level out the playing field when it comes to instruction and everyday learning across their classrooms.

"We are going to really target our instruction in order to do that. I am very hopeful that we can provide a little equity as the school year starts this fall," Tramel added.

Tiffany Parkerson, Executive Director of Secondary Education, including 5th-12th grade, for CSISD, says the main hope with secondary is to recover lost learning.

"Whether that is during school closure or students who are falling behind in in-person school. We know it is important for students to have a solid foundation before they move on to the next skill that depends on the previous one," Parkerson said.

Giving the opportunity to master what is needed to move ahead, Parkerson says at the secondary level, data from testing is crucial for determining growth measures.

"We have two types of programs in secondary, so we are expanding our intervention programs. We will also continue at the middle and high school levels to have our other school program which does offer students the opportunities to open up periods in the day for electives they may be interested in or other self-paced online learning through that separate summer program," Parkerson said.

Of the 1,500 described above, those students would be receiving specific interventions.

"..... So I'll give an example for 5th grade, in a regular year, there would be about 150 or so students in past years. We anticipate meeting that same number of students, but also expanding that support into the 6th grade, So that would mean we are almost doubling our efforts for intermediate school, doubling the efforts that we have in the past for high school and for middle as well," Parkerson said.

Across the Brazos valley, Caldwell ISD also says they are seeing an increase in summer enrollment and their plan is to think of this instruction more like a summer acceleration enrichment program versus traditional summer school.

"Roughly of our 1700 kids... probably 200 will be high-end. That's a very unusual number, but that's because we lost so much instruction last spring and when the schools were totally closed," Andrew Peters, Superintendent of Caldwell ISD said.

With two boys within Caldwell ISD, Esther Hayes says her boys will be utilizing what the district is offering for summer enrichment programs.

"We still don't know what the future brings right now, so having this opportunity to be able to make up some time, it's really important and I think it's great Caldwell is offering this," Hayes said. "My hope would be that it will help them caught up on things they might have missed during this crazy time as well as spend time with teachers and classmates."

"The biggest catch is gonna be can we motivate families to support us and get the kids involved and get them to participate on a daily basis," Peters said. "We are going to provide a hotspot for the child that wants to be a part of the summer acceleration program. We are going to provide a strong curriculum that we are getting from the Texas Education Agency and our service center supporting us, but it will be a 100% online experience for the student," he added.