North Texas districts launch expanded summer school programs to address ‘COVID slide’ | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

The children counted down from three before the rocket took off above the Fort Worth elementary school.

The event was part of the district’s “summer launch,” which education leaders hope will keep kids engaged and learning ahead of next school year.

Roughly 15,000 kids are taking part in Fort Worth ISD summer school this year — nearly triple the number enrolled in 2019. The expanded effort comes as districts across the country grapple with how to catch students up after nearly two years of learning were disrupted by COVID-19.

In the past, summer school may have only been considered for a smaller group of students who fell behind in class. But some Texas educators are attempting to rebrand it as a way to help a broader swath of kids with acceleration. For many districts, summer programs have already begun and will run on various schedules through July.

“This year, summer school is for everyone,” superintendent Kent P. Scribner said in a video introducing his district’s program.

New standardized test data shows that nearly four out of every 10 Texas public school students failed state math exams this year. The STAAR results were painful across the board: 37% of students tested failed math exams and 33% failed reading tests — an uptick of 16% and 4% respectively over 2019 results.

Education officials looked to summer school as a path to getting kids that vital extra time in front of a teacher, zeroing in on literacy and mathematics.

With many teachers exhausted from a particularly difficult year, some districts are offering incentives to get educators to run the summer program. FWISD, for example, is paying a $1,000 stipend on top of their usual compensation.

Dallas ISD is also operating several programs, touting its offerings as a “summer breeze” that includes acceleration courses to help with the so-called “COVID slide” and those for enrichment, such as fine arts camps. More than 5,000 students are involved, district spokeswoman Robyn Harris said.

Meanwhile, dozens of DISD schools will also start the school year earlier than normal, cutting down on time kids spend away from the classroom.

DISD leaders surveyed school communities on the option of adding five weeks of instruction, spread across the upcoming year. About a fifth of the district’s elementary and middle schools — 41 — will participate, starting the next school year on Aug. 9.

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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