Local school districts are promoting summer learning programs as an academic booster for all students as they ramp up efforts to meet more stringent state academic standards.
Educators in the Wausau and D.C. Everest Area school districts say they’ve made conscious efforts to promote the benefits of their summer schools to parents, and parents are responding. Administrators in both districts say that about half of their elementary students enrolled in regular school year classes participated in summer programs last summer, a percentage they expect to continue this year.
Everest officials expect more than 1,630 kindergarten through eighth-grade students to be enrolled in classes that begin June 17, the most ever, said Scot Abel, the district’s K-8 summer school director.
Wausau summer educators still are in the midst of registering children for their elementary summer learning program, so numbers for this summer’s program are not available. But last year, 2,160 students were enrolled, also the most ever, said Steve Miller, co-director. Wausau’s summer program begins Monday.
The emphasis on summer education has grown from reams of studies that show all students typically back-slide academically during their summer breaks, and teachers spend weeks in the fall reviewing materials that students learned late in the spring. Two-thirds of teachers in a national poll said they use three to four weeks in the beginning of a school year to review old material, according to a survey of 500 teachers by the National Summer Learning Association, a Baltimore organization that aims to bolster summer learning programs.
That’s time schools can ill afford to spend.
“There is an increased rigor in state standards,” Abel said. “But we’ve always had a very deep concern in helping kids grow. ... I think our summer program is a crucial piece of that.”
Miller said during the course of the past five or so years, Wausau School District administrators started making a concerted effort to change the reputation of summer school as a remedial program. He and other administrators started touting the program to teachers and other principals, so they would, in turn, sell the program to parents.