Friday, December 16, 2005

Summer school performance analyzed

Later summer school dates improve students' scores

Express Staff Writer

Over the summer, Blaine County public school students attend summer school to sharpen their skills. The Blaine County School District wants to make sure the summer session is the most effective means to improve student performance.

This year the district changed the timing of the summer school session to improve student performance. In past years, summer school was held from mid-June to mid-July. This past summer, the district shifted summer school to run from mid-July to mid-August.

"We did that hoping kids would not regress from summer school to actual school," said Jerry Hutchins, the district's director of testing.

The district studied the impact of early versus late summer school to determine whether the change in the scheduling of summer school impacted student performance. The Blaine County School District board of trustees examined the results Tuesday, Dec. 13, at a regular board meeting.

The analysis examined students' performance on the Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) and the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) to determine whether the scheduling change was effective. The data indicated that more students improve if summer school is held in the late summer.

The study measured a student's performance by tracking the change in percentage of the total possible points on the IRI from spring to the fall test.

"Most definitely summer school being late, for kids taking the IRI, was an improvement," Hutchins said.

By comparing data from 2004 to 2005, the study found that a higher percentage of students who attended late summer school record improvement and a greater amount of change on the IRI test, than students who attended early summer school.

In 2005, 68.6 percent of summer school students improved on the fall IRI test given after summer school, compared to the 56.6 percent of students who improved in 2004. Students qualified for summer school and who attended the program saw greater gains on the test, compared to qualified students who did not attend.

The study also measured performance on the ISAT reading test, examining the highest score a student received the previous year as compared to the fall following summer school. The ISAT results found students who attended summer school saw more improvement than those who did not. Late summer school students saw less improvement than early summer school. Comparing the amount of improvement on the ISAT, the district found the amount of improvement ambiguous.

Despite the improvements, a smaller percentage of qualified students referred to the program actually attended the late session.

Hutchins attributed the lower attendance to parents not receiving the early information regarding the change in scheduling.

Other changes in the program this year included a greater focus on the reading curriculum, an added training day for teachers, a room preparation day, snacks, a district office liaison, a principal and a reading specialist.

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