Successes noted in summer school pilot
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A pilot summer school project geared toward struggling fifth- and sixth-grade students from the three communities served by the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 is already producing results, according to a trio of Re-1 middle school principals who led the program.
More than 200 students from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt participated in the summer school portion of the project, which took place in July and August at Carbondale Middle School.
In addition to the four-week summer session, students who were selected for the program and whose parents agreed for them to participate are now enrolled in an extended-day program at their individual schools.
It’s part of a concentrated effort to fast-track students who have been identified as performing below grade level in reading and math, based on state test scores, and try to get them up to speed.
“We’ve already heard enough anecdotes and seen enough data to say it was well worth our time,” Carbondale Middle School Principal Rick Holt said at the Wednesday school board meeting in Glenwood Springs.
The year-long pilot program, called the Calaway Opportunity Project, was made possible through funding from Re-1 and a sizable grant from local philanthropist Jim Calaway. Additional funding will be needed to keep the program going next year.
Based on recent reading assessments that are typically done at the beginning of the school year, those students who attended the summer school program had 25 percent higher reading growth than students who didn’t, said Basalt Elementary School Principal Jeremy Voss, who co-administered the program along with Holt and Glenwood Springs Middle School Principal Sandra DeCrow.
Also, 38 percent of incoming fifth-grade students who went to summer school and who were behind grade level in reading at the end of last school year, were back on track by the time the regular school year resumed, Voss said.
And 92 percent of students who attended summer school did not show the typical regression that often happens during the break between school years. Many even registered gains in their reading, Voss said.
The results of math assessments for the summer school students were more difficult to measure, he said.
Follow-up assessments will continue through the school year, and the hope is to be able to continue the program again next summer, the principals said.
The program is loosely modeled after the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter schools, a national program that emphasizes longer school days and year-round class schedules as a means to help disadvantaged students in urban areas succeed.
An equal number of students were selected from each of the Re-1 middle schools to participate in the program. Funding, including $150,000 from the school district, provided training and pay for 14 summer school teachers. Student transportation, breakfast and lunch was also covered.
Calaway provided extra funding to hire two additional teachers, provide training and offer other support for the ongoing extended-day program.
The middle school program was one of several summer school options in the district this year.
More than 400 elementary school students in Glenwood Springs and Basalt took part in the Summer Advantage program, which was funded by Summit 54, an education support organization based in Aspen and Denver.
Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale also offered a summer school option to help students be better prepared for the regular school year.
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