While thousands of children are spending part of the summer in classrooms for enrichment, school districts and researchers are measuring what kids learn in summer school. The results are somewhat uneven.
In the St Louis area, much of the focus has been on reading and math. Research has shown that students lose what they learn in school over the summer months, but it is unclear how much children are actually learning in summer school. Data hasnt been collected by education departments in most states to determine what children are learning and how it helps their over all school experience.
More than a dozen districts in the St Louis area provided assessment data about how much students learn by the end of summer school, and the pictures vary greatly between the districts. There are also gaps in what the districts know.
Some, such as Parkway, don’t test their children to determine whether they grew academically, because the exams don’t necessarily align with the courses. While Mehlville assesses middle schoolers, it does not test elementary-aged children. Hazelwood doesn’t track academic growth for anyone enrolled in summer school, according to a spokesman. St. Louis Public Schools only tests a couple of grade levels, even though 7,100 students in the district participated in summer school this year.
“There’s kind of a casualness about it that I’ve always found frustrating,” said Kathy Christie, vice president of knowledge and information management at the nonprofit Education Commission of the States.
In Missouri, summer school is voluntary for districts. About 350 out of 520 provide it, plus about a dozen charter schools. Those that do, have different goals and expectations.
Some zero in on remediation for students in elementary or middle school at risk of repeating a grade. Down the hall, other students may be engaged in robotics or enrichment classes.