What is the image that the phrase summer school elicits? For many people, it’s students repeating classes. It doesn’t help that the eponymously named film Summer School perpetuated the image of a dreary class full of uninterested students wishing they were anywhere but there. And seeing how many hoops Mark Harmon’s teacher had to jump through to make breakthroughs with his students probably didn’t inspire many teachers to volunteer to teach summer school.
The reality of what summer school can be today couldn’t be further from those images. With the proliferation of online learning, summer school programs and offerings are only limited by the imaginations of those designing them.
So why exactly should you consider offering a customized summer school program in your school or district? There are lots of reasons, first and foremost that doing so can help your students. And you can offer summer school easily and affordably with partners like Edgenuity®, that work with schools and districts to offer curriculum and virtual instructors. No longer do limited resources have to be a barrier to giving your students the learning opportunities they need to be successful!
How Can a Customized Summer School Program Benefit My Students?
Think of summer school as the Swiss Army knife of education—more helpful than you realize. The summer offers another opportunity for students and schools to continue learning, with the added benefit of flexibility. That’s great because summer school can be used to help students in so many ways, including the following:
- Making up courses and recovering credits. Summer school gives students another chance to catch up with their peers and graduate on time. Even recovering one credit over the summer can make a huge difference for a student, and summer offers a great opportunity for students to take their time with difficult concepts.
- Preventing summer slide. Where do we start? Whether it’s studies that show test scores decline after summer vacation, research that found that most students lose 2 months of mathematical skills every summer, or the fact that 9 in 10 teachers spend at least 3 weeks reteaching lessons at the start of school—summer slide is a pain in the behind. And one easy way to nip it in the bud is to offer additional opportunities for learning and reinforcement over the summer.
- Exploring new interests. We all know how busy the school year can be. Students juggle core courses, electives, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities from September to May, leaving little time for anything more. Summer school provides inquisitive students with another opportunity to explore new interests, topics, and courses that they wouldn’t otherwise have had the time or ability to study during the school year.
- Increasing college readiness. If you want to give your students an extra boost before sending them out into the wide blue yonder of college, providing your students with the time to take in lessons and content more deeply and even take extra courses will only add to their college readiness.
How Can a Customized Summer School Program Benefit My Faculty?
The benefits of summer school for students are clear, but did you know that summer school can help your faculty, too?
- Professional development. Tell me if this scenario feels familiar: A teacher wants to focus on professional development during the summer, but they’ve got their hands full with summer school. That’s unfortunate and common. Fortunately, with a blended or fully virtual summer school program, the workload for school or district faculty is lessened, freeing them up for training, classes, and/or workshops that benefit themselves, administrators, schools, and students.
- Lower or no operating costs. Offering a fully virtual program means students don’t need to come into school to complete their work, leading to less money spent keeping the school clean, well-lit, and cooled, and potentially no transportation costs. As long as students have access to a device and reliable Wi-Fi, they’ll have everything they need to complete their work, and you’ve freed up valuable funds to be spent elsewhere.
When it comes to providing additional learning opportunities in the summer, the possibilities are endless. Even though summer feels like a long time from now, it’s a great time to start figuring out what your students need, and designing a program that works for you. With a little planning, and perhaps the right partner, your customized summer school program can look less like Mark Harmon’s teacher’s in Summer School, and more like Edward James Olmos’ character’s in Stand and Deliver.
Afterschool Alliance. (2009). America after 3PM: The most in-depth study of how America’s children spend their afternoons. Retrieved from http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/aa3_full_report.pdf
Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. (1996). The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 66(3), 227–268.
National Summer Learning Association. (n.d.). The achievement gap: Summer by the numbers. Retrieved from https://www.summerlearning.org/at-a-glance/