The programming, available across the district, help students maintain skills through the summer and help older students recover course credits missed during the school year.
FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors heard updates on the district’s summer programming at the Tuesday, Sept. 13, meeting.
The Summer Learning Camp, hosted at W.G. Mallett School in Farmington, sends students based on referrals from teachers.
According to Mt. Blue Middle School Assistant Principal Katherine Duchesne and Director of Curriculum Laura Columbia, 89 students were referred to the program across pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, excluding zero referrals in third grade, and 56 attended.
Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon also held a pilot summer-tutoring program. That was attended by 24 students – 14% of the school population. This program offered parents flexibility with a choice of time slots for their children. It also made attending the program more accessible for families in more remote locations, Columbia said.
In grades five through eight, 129 students were referred and 88 attended the program.
In grades nine through 11, 42 students were eligible to attend an extended-year program and 37 students participated.
The bulk of referrals are from first and second grade classes, “which is where so much of a focus is on literacy and those skills,” Duchesne said.
Duchesne said that one of the goals of the literacy-focused programming is to ensure “maintenance of skills through the summer so they don’t slide.”
Looking at some results, Duchesne said:
• 100% of first graders either maintained or improved their math and reading levels.
• 100% of students in the Cape Cod Hill School tutoring-program made progress from their first data point to their last data point.
• 94% of second graders either maintained or improved their math and reading levels, which is lower because one student missed two weeks of classes.
• 96.6% of students who attending programming in grades five through eight “successfully completed all of their subjects,” with three students who attended only briefly.
• Students in grades nine through 11 who participated “recovered a total of 46 credits through participation in 46 course recoveries.”
“If [the students are] not there as often, they’re not going to necessarily see the same maintenance or growth as if they were attending four days a week for five weeks,” Duchesne said.
Pre-kindergarteners attend a program called Kindergarten Jump Start (KJS), which she said is a valuable program that focuses on “basic skills like letter recognition.” However, the program is not something “frequently done” in the district because there isn’t always funding, whether via local funding or grants.
Duchesne said the KJS program is particularly important because data shows screenings of pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners is “much, much lower than it has ever been before.”
“This is an opportunity if the funding is available to help a chunk of those students kind of get where they need to be to be at a better place to start,” Duchesne said.
Despite those low screenings, Duchesne said referrals to the overall program “were much lower this year, which honestly surprised me.”
But, she added, teachers were having conversations with parents ahead of submitting referrals and some declined to have their kids participate in the program.
Columbia said that there are “many factors that go into these numbers [of enrollment].”
Families might be busy during the summer, older students might be less inclined to attend summer school, Columbia said. Thus, not all students who are eligible or recommended are ultimately referred.
During discussion, Director Alexander Creznic asked whether there was opportunity to advance students beyond their next grade, given results like first graders who had 100% maintenance or improvement.
Duchesne clarified that no student “improved” by that margin great enough to skip a grade.
Were any “exceptionally gifted students … [identified] in this program” that can be advanced, Creznic asked.
“In this programming, we are typically getting those students that are behind level to try to get them where they need to be so they’re successful to start the next school year,” Duchesne said. “In the summer, we typically don’t have any of the gifted kiddos participating in summer programming.”
“But I really do like the idea of having a summer program for gifted-and-talented students,” Columbia said. “Not yet, but possibly in our strategic planning, we might see that as an area we can work on.”
Superintendent Chris Elkington added that perhaps theme-based summer programming for gifted-and-talented students could be a way to go.
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