09/19/10 — WCPS students, staff say summer school successful

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WCPS students, staff say summer school successful

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 19, 2010 1:50 AM

Brianna Wilson, a fourth-grader at Carver Heights Elementary School, was glad she got to go to summer school.

She liked the "jump start breakfasts" and being able to write a book during the five-week session, she said.

But it was her opening statement that really grabbed the attention of the school board when she and others spoke about summer school at the board meeting Monday night.

"I will graduate in 2019," she said after being introduced by her principal, Carole Battle.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor referenced her comment later, saying it illustrated how students are being taught with the end result in mind.

Brianna said one of the highlights of summer school was a spelling bee, as well as all the things she learned from the teachers.

"I would like to thank Dr. Taylor and the Board of Education for allowing us to have summer school," she said. "I learned a lot and it was fun."

Ms. Battle said the program at her school was very successful, with about 80 enrolled.

Lori Goodman, an assistant principal at Goldsboro High School, was site administrator for the Carver Heights summer program. She described some of what went on in the classroom.

"It was very hands-on, very exciting. They were able to work in small groups, on the skills they needed," she said. "They wrote their own books, illustrated them, wrote new endings and their own titles to popular children's books, and played math relay games."

Charlie Ivey, principal at Spring Creek Elementary School, called himself a "naysayer" when summer school was first proposed.

"I was wrong," he admitted. "Summer school was one of the most enjoyable programs we have had. One hundred seventy students came through summer school -- we had about a 95 percent attendance rate."

Spring Creek took a different approach for summer school, Ivey said, offering a program of maintenance and enrichment. It focused on both students at risk as well as those who had been promoted.

The school's population includes a growing number of English-as-a-Second-Language students, Ivey said.

"We knew they needed the extra support to be ready for the challenges of the next grade," he said. "They have a tendency to drop back during the five- to eight-week break. Our whole job was to maintain where they were and to enrich and fill in some of the gaps."

The school had 20 teachers and 16 assistants working with the students, with a good student-to-teacher ratio, the principal said.

"The benefit was beyond my wildest imagination," he said. "From two-thirds, (or) 75 percent showed progress in reading comprehension. But more importantly, they maintained where they were. Teachers have mentioned that that summer help was beneficial."

Helping Ivey in the presentation was Illeko Brooks, a fourth-grader who attended summer school.

Illeko said his group studied the culture of Rome, making togas and hats.

"What was one of the most fun things you did?" Ivey asked him.

"We played Bingo and had ice cream and our teacher gave us candy," the student replied.

"Did you enjoy summer school?" Ivey said.

"Yes," Illeko said.

"Would you go again?" Ivey asked.

"Yes," the student said.

Turning to the school board, Ivey said, "If you have the resources, I strongly recommend you have the program again."

"We do appreciate the summer school program," Taylor said. "We know that we will see the fruits of that labor at year's end (when end of grade tests are given) and we're certainly appreciative of funding that we received."

The school system has not had a districtwide summer school program in several years, lacking funding to offer it. This year, stimulus money was made available to provide it at 15 schools, serving 1,225 students.

Dr. Willette Stanley, director of federal programs, praised the value of having such a program.

She said that students given the opportunity to have guided exercises in reading and math increased fluency rates and comprehension.

An assessment of students was done on students the first day and again at the end of the five weeks.

"It was 69 (words per minute) the first day and the last session, the average reading words per minute increased to 79 words per minute and this is in 19 days, five weeks of instruction," she said.

In fluency data for grades 1-8 -- measuring progress as students move from grade to grade -- Dr. Stanley said there was also significant growth.

"The beginning score was 90 words per minute and when we finished, it was 110 words per minute," she said.

To further demonstrate her point, she played recordings of students reading at the start of summer school and how much they had improved by session's end.