Discard those preconceived negative notions about summer school because, as you’ve often heard, we’re living in unprecedented times and students could use some extra help.
ConVal School District’s announcement this week that it will provide grant-funded tutoring and other summer learning opportunities for students should be encouraging news for struggling students and their parents. The district plans to offer summer programs for students in elementary school through high school.
Other area school districts, like Monadnock Regional and SAU 29, also have summer programs in the works, according to an informal email survey this week.
ConVal programs for elementary and middle school students were outlined in a news release this week, and the district said it plans to disseminate information about summer offerings for high school students in early May.
The summer programs provide a chance to bridge gaps in learning caused by the pandemic. Part of the school district’s Learning Recovery Plan, the programs are funded through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSER).
A component of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 2020, ESSER funds are meant to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s schools, including learning loss students might have suffered due to interrupted instructional time.
New Hampshire schools received more than $500 million in federal pandemic aid, and school districts have devoted much of the money to hiring staff to address learning gaps, according to a December report by the N.H. Bulletin.
A study released in October from Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research and Stanford University’s Educational Opportunity Project found that between 2019 and 2022 students in New Hampshire lost six months of learning in math and two months in English.
Meanwhile, a December 2021 report commissioned for the state by the national Comprehensive Center Network found that New Hampshire’s statewide assessment scores fell 10 percent in English and 18 percent in math between 2019 and 2022, the Bulletin reported.
In the three years that have passed since the pandemic began, school administrators in the Granite State have worked to leverage federal COVID-19 relief money to tackle learning lapses by hiring tutors and creating new programs to extend the school year for interested families. The state Department of Education has also used federal money to partner with outside organizations to create online tutoring opportunities.
Given the myriad demands on time during the regular school year, students might find it difficult to fit in tutoring sessions. A focused but less-pressured summer session could be the best solution.
ConVal’s programs for elementary and middle school students will run from July 5 through July 27, still allowing time for summer recreation and relaxation. Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said the programs will provide “enriching learning opportunities as well as targeted tutoring.”
For example, the Explore and Expand Summer Learning program for students entering grades 1 through 4, is designed to bolster skills acquired during the school year and help fight summer learning loss, the district said. In this program, students will receive 1½ hours of academic support in both mathematics and literacy from certified ConVal teachers and tutors. An additional hour of the program will be reserved for enrichment and exploration, such as drumming and cartooning residencies.
The Middle School Summer Academy for students in grades 5 through 8 is aimed at strengthening skills in math and literacy while introducing students to new concepts taught in middle or high school.
In addition, the federally funded Title 1 program for students entering grades 1 through 5 will support student learning in reading. Students in this summer program will receive up to three hours of academic assistance daily from certified ConVal teachers, the district said.
Bus transportation and lunch will be available for all students, the district said.
This proactive measure by the ConVal School District offers a golden summer opportunity to bridge learning gaps, to socialize with peers, and to return to school with confidence in the new academic year.
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