In an effort to improve educational opportunities for at risk students, some districts are considering making summer school mandatory for K-2 students.
In Middletown New York, approximately 600 young children will be required to attend summer school, or be held back. This measure has sparked debate about the limits of remediation and the role of testing.
Middletown is forcing the children who have just finished kindergarten, first and second grades to attend a summer program lasting 5 weeks. There are 7,000 students total in the urban district located in Orange County, NY.
School officials identified the children based on their scores on the popular, computer-based MAP test. Students will be retested at the end of the summer program, which will cost about $300,000, and those who do not progress could still be retained in new, individualized classes or promoted with extra help.
Middletown schools Superintendent Kenneth Eastwood said the district is trying different approaches to help students who are in danger of never reaching academic standards.
“There is sufficient evidence of a crisis, so we’re saying that a line is being drawn,” he said. “Our kids have to be literate and have strong mathematical skills to be moved through the grades. This is a very high-needs district, and we are setting kids up for failure if we just move them along.”
Several parents told the Middletown Board of Education on Tuesday that they were blind-sided by a summer school mandate based on test scores.
“To receive such devastating news after a year of school, this is completely unacceptable,” said Lucy Bini-Delacruz, a parent who started a petition on MoveOn.org to overturn the district’s policy. “During parent-teacher conferences, I was assured that my children’s progress was satisfactory.”
School districts with many students living in poverty or with limited English ability have long tried different methods of remediation, including summer programs.