Top Considerations for Your Summer School Program

February 11, 2021 Dawn McAvoy By Dawn McAvoy
Boy with skateboard

Never in our wildest dreams did we envision what we have endured this past year. As we move forward and (hopefully) beyond the pandemic and its impact on learning during the 2020-2021 school year, districts are evaluating how to reimagine summer school.

The challenge of balancing the need to help more students than in a typical summer school year, providing more classes than usual, bridging learning gaps, and addressing the social and emotional learning (SEL) needs of exhausted and frustrated students and teachers, will not be easy. But it is absolutely doable!  

We are here to help as you navigate how to creatively meet the dynamic needs of your students when planning your summer school programs. Below we outline our top four suggestions for creating a summer school experience that can meet your district’s needs.

1. SEL is a Top Priority

Students today need all of the support they can get from their parents, peers, and of course, their educators. While some students may have fallen behind academically, most will likely benefit from social and emotional learning (SEL) support – regardless of their academic needs.

Summer programs can provide students the opportunity to focus on character development, behavioral intervention, and mental health and well-being. This can provide students with important skills to address the trauma and stress they faced this past school year and it will better prepare them for academic instruction this fall.

2. Provide Flexible Opportunities to Earn Course Credit

When summer programs are expanded to include opportunities to complete courses for initial credit toward graduation, the use of digital curriculum allows more students to be included. Schools can also realize significant cost savings compared to traditional summer offerings because each teacher is able to support more students.

Students have the opportunity to meet with teachers periodically for instruction for progress check-ins, lab activities, and for assessment proctoring as finding summer school teachers could be more challenging this year.

Because digital curriculum enables online, self-paced learning, students can work on lessons and activities from any device with Internet access, in a location and time of their choosing. Online or blended summer programs can meet the needs of students who are unable to physically attend classes due to health safety concerns, transportation issues, life circumstances, or summer jobs.

3. Remediate gaps in prerequisite knowledge prior to advancing grade levels

In a normal year, research indicates many students are underprepared for high school and need additional support due to weak foundations in prerequisite concepts. This is especially true this year. As many students enter high school, they experience early patterns of failure that can lead to the belief they will not be able to earn a high school diploma. Without effective forms of intervention and support, these reinforcing patterns of failure can cause students to fall further behind.

In many districts, students identified as performing below grade level will be invited to participate in summer remediation programs where they will be given an opportunity to learn and strengthen the prerequisite skills and foundational concepts needed to prepare students for grade level success.  

4. Increase college and career readiness

Districts are offering programs during the summer to prepare high school students for college entrance exams. In these programs, digital curriculum is leveraged to provide prescriptive assessment that delivers a personalized learning plan with adaptive remediation for each student. Students work at their own pace to achieve mastery of the concepts they need the most.

Students participating in these programs report an increase in their ACT®, SAT®, and ACCUPLACER® scores, which can improve their chances of entering the college or university of their choice and increase scholarship opportunities.

To learn more about how we can help your district streamline summer school planning to meet the dynamic needs of your district, check out our white paper.

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