Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Area schools change gears for summer programs

By Jennifer Mrozowski, jmrozowski@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        School districts throughout Greater Cincinnati are expanding and altering summer school options this year to meet student needs and emphasize the importance of extra learning time.

        Experts say summer school provides a critical link for students who are falling behind or simply need a boost.

        Schools officials say they are tailoring summer classes, which traditionally are smaller and offer more one-on-one attention, to areas where their students require the most help.

        In Cincinnati Public Schools, which launched summer school programs Monday, elementary school summer programs target reading and have expanded this year to more grades.

        “This is an extension of our focus on early literacy,” spokeswoman Janet Walsh said. “It's critically important that students develop these skills.”

        The district this year assigned to summer school first- and fourth-graders who need remedial help, in addition to second- and third-graders. Last year, about 3,000 students were assigned to summer school. That number jumped to 4,100 this year.

        Other new offerings:

        • Mount Healthy Schools added a fifth-grade section to its Summer Bridge Program. The program is now offered for all elementary and middle school grades, and high school students needing proficiency test help.

        • Three Rivers Schools is providing transportation for the first time to elementary summer school students to encourage attendance. Physical education is also being offered at Taylor High School to allow student to take more academic courses next school year.

        • Princeton Schools added a science proficiency class at the high school level and will focus on reading only, instead of reading and math, at the elementary level.

        “We felt like we needed to take the full-court press approach with reading,” said Lon Stettler, Princeton's assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

        Students who fail three or more of the five proficiency tests typically have problems reading them, he said.

        “We see reading as being such an important foundation that we wanted to focus on it.”

        Despite the early hours of summer school when most kids are sleeping in and the limited time at the pool, some students say they like the extra help.

        “It gets me ready for the fifth grade,” said Eric Miller, 10.

        After working on word plays Monday, Eric and fellow fourth-grader Jabriel Fears, 12, created multistep story math problems Monday at Cincinnati's Whittier Elementary. They were rewarded stickers by teacher Margi Richmond for their efforts.

        “It's fun,” Jabriel said about summer school. “You get to learn more than you get in school.”


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