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As their peers celebrate the last day of school, many Sacramento students will head home facing an uncertain summer. With only a one-day notice, SCUSD called a special Board of Education Meeting to be held on Thursday – the last day of school. The Board will consider a staff suggestion to eliminate summer school programs district wide.
Due to budget constraints, enrichment programs have already been stripped from the district’s summer school agenda. Kara Broderick, a first and second grade teacher at David Lubin Elementary, said that teachers were asked “only to recommend students that were below basic or far below basic” grade levels. The Board will decide Thursday whether or not to eliminate the program entirely.
Eliminating summer school programs for students who are below proficiency levels will have a far-reaching impact. A 2006 study of high school dropouts, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 45% of students who dropped out of high school stated that “they started high school poorly prepared by their earlier schooling” and emphasized that many “likely fell behind in elementary and middle school and could not make up the necessary ground.”
As adults, these students are far more likely to be “unemployed, living in poverty, receiving public assistance, in prison, on death row, unhealthy, divorced, and ultimately single parents with children who drop out from high school themselves.”
Additionally, the study listed summer school as a supplemental service that “schools need to provide” in order to reduce drop out rates in the future.
The National Association of School Psychologists agrees, stating that summer school programs play an essential part in facilitating academic development and eliminating ineffective practices such as social promotion and grade retention.
For students struggling to meet grade level standards, summer school provides the opportunity to catch up prior to the start of a new school year. Linda Lane has enrolled her daughter Eva, who will enter the first grade at David Lubin next year, into the district’s summer school program.
As one of the youngest children in her class, Lane says that Eva “got off to a really rough start” but has been steadily making improvements. Lane believes that “summer school will help her achieve proficiency by the start of her first grade year.” She added that Eva “is finally enjoying the learning part of school, so she is ripe for leaning!”
SCUSD’s own proposed frameworks for academic achievement explicitly state that academic success can not be achieved “for every student by name” unless those below grade level are afforded the resources to meet minimum proficiency levels. By eliminating academic programs for the most vulnerable children in our district, the district will fail to live up to its own standards and frameworks.
The Board of Education will meet Thursday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Serna Center, 5735 47th Avenue, Sacramento. The meeting begins with a closed session and opens to the public at 8:00 p.m. The agenda can be viewed here.