MCSD Whiteboard: Summer school in full swing

Moffat County School District

Well, it felt like summer there for a minute, and surely, as we get closer to the true start to the season, we’ll start getting more consistently summery feelings in Moffat County. 

Though summer is not yet officially upon us, summer school is already well into its session at Moffat County School District. 

This year’s elementary summer school enrollment took a big jump up from last year. From about 100 students last year, this summer we’ve got 177 kids coming to catch up, keep things fresh, or just have a fun learning experience during the warmer months. 

That increase is probably due in some part to the district’s new approach to summer school programming. This year in elementary grades, our educators have made it a point to include some of those subjects we know students have a little more fun with. Physical education, STEM and art are among those enriching options that summer school attendees are getting this year, in addition to standard core instruction work to keep them sharp, get ahead, or help them get up to grade level. 

We’re grateful for the help of the local Boys & Girls Club, which is helping us provide a lot of that enrichment education. We’ve got club staff working directly with the kids during the school session, and they’re also helping transport kids back to the club for those whose parents need that support. It’s a great partnership for the district, and we really appreciate that collaboration. 

When our educators ask our kids their favorite subject, so often it’s one of those listed above. We wanted to provide that — both as a little incentive to come keep learning the core subjects, and because, as a district, we recognize how important and valuable these non-core subjects are to a child’s complete education and development. They’re getting math and literacy, too, but there’s more than just times tables and spelling tests for those students attending summer school. 

Of course, summer school is also a great opportunity to provide some extra help for those kids who can benefit from it. Even though MCSD was back in person for school this whole year, students are still demonstrating that they feel the effects of the “COVID slide” that started a couple years back — and, still, there were quarantines and missed class time this school year, as well. Some students have bounced right back, but there are others who, whether caused by COVID-19 or not, are going to have a better chance to excel next school year if they get a little boost in the right direction over the summer. 

With the goal of student success for all of our community’s kids in mind, the district is working hard to maximize this opportunity to do just that. And our faculty are making sure that, whether a student needs to catch up or is ready to get ahead, he or she doesn’t have to sit down with a pencil and stare down at the same worksheets from last year, or, in the case of the student working forward, there won’t be repeat curricular material in the year to come. 

Anecdotal evidence locally is clear: students who attend summer school are more likely to thrive in the fall, no matter where they’re at relative to grade-level standards. Nationally, studies show definitively that kids backslide a bit during the summer break, setting them up to return to school in August with ground to reclaim. It’s well-documented that summer school attendees suffer that phenomenon less than non-attendees. 

Summer school is funded through a few different streams. The district is required by law to provide it for a certain subset of children with particular special needs, and we’re more than happy to do so. This expanded programming that includes a larger group of kids is an initiative that this year and last year has been funded by COVID-19 recovery money. We won’t have that after this year, but we’re already exploring other options that can help us continue to offer a robust program. Especially after a summer with enrollment this high, it’s apparent the model we’re working with is resonating with our students and their parents. That’s important. 

At the high school level, summer school has a somewhat different purpose and approach. There, students might be concerned with credit recovery, and of course that’s a big part of what our faculty up Finley Lane are working on. There are also opportunities for all students, regardless of grade-point average, to squeeze more value out of the last few years of their public education before they head off to secondary education, trade schools or the workforce. 

We know COVID-19 impacted some kids differently than others. And, as always, every child has different needs, pandemic or not. Our philosophy with this year’s summer school program is to increase the likelihood a student would enjoy attending the session and catch as many possible children so we could deliver as much positive educational momentum as we can. 

As with anything we do at Moffat County School district, it’s all about student success. 

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