Southampton County summer school plan presented

Published 5:38 pm Sunday, May 23, 2021

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Southampton County Public Schools is planning a summer school that will be in person, open to all, free for all, except those taking new classes, and it will focus on credit recovery, closing the achievement gap and acceleration at the high school level. 

Southampton County Public Schools Curriculum Director Kelli Gillette, who gave the summer school plan presentation during a May 10 school board meeting, also noted that transportation will be provided from house to school.

Gillette said the committee devising the summer school plan consists of central office staff and teachers from every level.

“We want to provide the opportunity for teachers to close those learning gaps that students have,” she told school board members while outlining the purpose of this year’s summer school. “We want to look closely at the SOLs in the Virginia curriculum framework that are not mastered so these students can move forward.

“We want to provide opportunities for students to have recovery credit. If they did not pass, we’ll give them another chance to pass,” she continued. “Also, it’s going to provide students opportunities to take new and additional classes for credit at the high school.”

In a May 17 email interview, Gillette stated that a combination of state and local funds are helping make summer school free this year.

“It’s been free in the past for our elementary and middle,” she told board members May 10, “but we’re also going to do the same thing for our high school students, that they will not have to pay a tuition, unless they are taking a new course — then we’ll look at the availability of that, if it happens to be through Plato or Virtual Virginia.”

In the interview, she noted that each year, the state provides money for remedial summer school based on actual enrollment.

She also detailed the programs she referenced. Plato is part of Edmentum, an online learning program, and offers courses that address a wide range of educational needs including original credit, credit recovery, career readiness, college readiness and higher education options. Virtual Virginia is a Virginia Department of Education program serving students in Virginia schools by providing flexible options for the diverse educational needs of students and their families.

Gillette explained to board members May 10 that COVID-19 measures will be in place this summer.

“As always, just as we have been doing, students will maintain three to six feet of distance throughout the day, they’ll have frequent hand washing, they’ll eat breakfast in the classroom, we’ll have temperature checks, and everyone will wear a mask,” she said.

In her presentation, Gillette stated that any student who has a scaled score of less than 400 on the English and/or mathematics SOL tests will be recommended for summer school in grades three through eight.

Other eligible students include those who are going to be retained in their grade because they have not mastered the objectives, she stated, or any student identified in need of a program of prevention, remediation or intervention to improve academic skills. If students have not mastered minimum proficiency on the SOL, PALS or any other standardized assessment or local benchmark assessment, they can be eligible, and Gillette added that principals can recommend any student they feel would benefit from summer school.

Explaining how summer school will be conducted, she said there will be a prescribed curriculum that everyone will follow at the elementary and middle school levels.

“We’ll have guided and direct instruction that will have individualized skills depending on the data from the student, where they’re at, teaching them where they’re at and (moving) forward,” she said. “It will be for reading and mathematics, we’ll definitely have small-group (instruction), and again, we would like to have in-person instruction.”

At the high school, the courses will be based on teacher availability, she said.

“Again, we’ll have direct instruction with free tuition for the credit recovery,” she told board members. “We’ll have new courses for students to take to get ahead, and students will be able to retake SOL tests and have in-person instruction.”

Summer school at the high school level will run Monday-Thursday from June 23-July 29, Gillette stated. Students will go from 8:30 a.m.-noon for one session, and the second session will run from 1-5 p.m. Students can attend two sessions.

She noted that summer school for the elementary and middle school will run Monday-Thursday from June 28-July 29, and students’ schedule will be 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.