While summer school may not be the top activity for many students, this year’s summer programs in the Vernon School District enjoyed a high rate of success.
Rod Peters, vice-principal of summer programs, said a little more than 300 students took part in district programs this summer: sessions in math and English at W.L. Seaton; the summer reading program at district elementary schools; and an online summer session offering 16 courses.
The English and math programs at Seaton had 49 students enrolled. The program had an 87 per cent success rate for local students, and a 78 per cent completion rate for international students.
“As you can imagine, teaching English to 30 students at different levels in different grades is a challenge, so we were happy to have access to online courses, where students can do their work while others had time with the teachers,” he said. “This points to the potential for online course material to enrich current face-to-face classrooms throughout the district.
“This program offers a strong support for the international students who need to keep academically active throughout the summer. The international students quickly became comfortable in this environment.”
The course brought in seven teachers teaching seven courses of four different levels of math and three of English at the Grade 10 to 12 level.
This year’s summer reading program had 164 registrants from across the district, served by two or three teachers at seven different schools.
“The team teaching skills of teachers were amazing to watch in action as they balanced responsibilities and student experiences to offer one-on-one activities as well as partner, small group and large group activities,” said Peters.
On average, he said the individual student PM benchmarks (reading levels) improved significantly, with only six per cent not improving; these students will be referred for further testing and support.
“We know how important it is to do even just a little bit of reading in the summer,” said program teacher Cullie Dueck. “We see parents every morning and we have the chance to talk to them about what’s working at home, when is a good time to read. And the confidence that kids get from this program is wonderful.”
Peters said some teachers were concerned about high needs referrals that were not accompanied with the same kind of CEA support that comes in the students’ regular day, putting added demands on teachers which in turn took time away from the other students.
The online summer session brought in four teachers who combined to offer 16 courses, with 96 students taking advantage of these online summer offerings; 66 students achieved successful completion and credit in their courses.
“This resulted in a 69 per cent completion rate, which is on par with previous years and above the provincial average for distance learning,” said Peters. “Given the short time frame of this program, that completion rate is a success.
“The teachers who delivered this program had previous experience with online summer courses. This in combination with access to improved online course will continue to improve success rates and more importantly quality personalized learning opportunities for our students.”