Changes made to summer school program
Officials from the Lee County School District recently unveiled changes to the 2009 summer school session that includes the use of more online programs.
Dr. Constance Jones, chief academic officer of the Lee County School District, presented the district’s 2009 program to the school board last week. Summer school services have been reduced to save money and for efficiency, she said.
“We have tried to scale back our summer school program to be as cost effective as possible, yet offer those things required by law and those things that are extremely high priority for us,” said Jones.
The district originally budgeted $3 million for summer school but $1 million of that was taken to help balance the budget.
Legally, the district has to offer a summer reading camp for elementary students who earn a 1 on the FCAT exam. Also, some students with individualized education plans or IEPs require an extended school year.
Jones said there more opportunities for middle and high school students to retrieve lost credit to decrease the district’s drop-out rate and increase graduation rates, she said. According to Browder, students recovered 1,400 credits last year and officials expect around 2,000 this year.
“Credit retrieval is an important piece in middle and high school to keep students on track,” she said.
The summer reading camp for elementary students will include four hours of instruction for 14 days in June and July. Middle and high school students will have 14 days of summer school with five hours per day to earn back credits for English, Math, Science or Social Studies.
As in other years the district will use online learning software for secondary students. They can log onto Compass Learning to retrieve middle grade credits and NovaNet for high school credits.
Jones added that one teacher will be assigned to online classrooms for supervision.
Although some in the community are concerned about whether online credit retrieval is academically beneficial for students, Jones said that the online programs are rigorous.
Compass Learning is a modular based program, meaning that students only focus on areas where they haven’t demonstrated mastery – or passed by at least 80 percent. Students in summer school are given a pre-and-post-exam to determine if they have mastered the material, she said.
“It is a demonstration of mastery of standards, not necessarily seat time, to get the credit,” said Jones.
Summer school locations were also chosen by zone to provide access to all students across the county, she said, but the number of schools that provide transportation was decreased from three to two. On the other hand, if a student provides their own transportation they can go to any high school except for North Fort Myers High because of repairs over the summer.