District Helps Students Advance During Summer

Wellcore partner, the East Ramapo Central School District helped students advance and avoid a summer slump through five innovative programs. According to research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, “students can benefit in several ways from summer learning programs: They can master material that they did not learn during the previous school year, reverse summer learning loss, and even achieve learning gains.” This summer, East Ramapo Central School District offered five thoughtfully crafted programs, each designed to help students mitigate learning loss, make academic strides, and prepare to move forward.

The Extended School Year (ESY) Program, Response to Intervention (RtI) Summer Literacy Intensive, SIFE Newcomer Summer School, and Summer Graduation Regents Preparation were developed to support, respectively, special education students, students in need of reading support, English Language Learners with interrupted or limited education, and students who were unable to graduate in June 2015 because they hadn’t been able to pass the needed Regents Examinations. In addition, Finkelstein Library offered a reading program for East Ramapo students entitled “Every Hero Has a Story” to encourage students to continue reading when school is not in session.

The Extended School Year (ESY) Program is a 6-week program for students identified as requiring consistent services throughout the summer. The primary goal of ESY is to help students avoid substantial academic and social regressions, and the program is designed to combine a fun summertime experience with enriching, developmentally appropriate learning. Students received services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, and were supported by psychologists and behavior therapists. School Psychologist Dina Halberstam says it was, “a great opportunity for students to practice the skills they have learned all year in a fun and relaxing school environment. We have also gotten to see how our students react to changes in routine and novel experiences.”

During the month of July, reading specialists worked one-on-one and in small groups with 3rd through 7th grade students who were reading significantly below grade level to tailor reading interventions in the Response to Intervention (RtI) Summer Literacy Intensive program. Students were grouped in a 10:1 ratio with teachers and data was collected and assessed throughout the program to help staff provide the most effective individualized student instruction. Kelly Dowd, Assistant to the Superintendent, Elementary Education is proud to report, “The students who consistently attended the program met their weekly goals and left the program with confidence to go onto the next grade.” She tells of a mom so pleased with the results that she presented RtI staff with a special thank you: “On the last day a parent arrived with a cookie cake and a balloon. I welcomed her in and thought it was her child’s birthday. With tear-filled eyes, she explained that her daughter was given a gift this summer — for the first time her daughter was excited about reading.”

The SIFE (Students with Interrupted Formal Education) Newcomer Summer School provided additional opportunities for language acquisition to those of the district’s English Language Learners entering 9th or 10th grade who were newcomers (0-3 years in a U.S. school) and/or had interrupted or inconsistent formal education. SIFE students were immersed in English As a New Language, as well as Home Language Arts in French or Spanish. “In order for the students to achieve academic success, it is necessary that they be immersed in literacy both in English and their home language,” explains Melissa Barrow, Instructional Supervisor of English as a New Language (ENL) and World Languages for East Ramapo Central School District. “All courses were geared to the needs of our students with the expectation that they would be better prepared for the academic rigor of the Common Core standards in September.” Students also participated in a Life Skills and Career class, which provided instruction related to the practical, useful “survival” English needed in everyday life.

East Ramapo Central School District offered the Summer Graduation / Regents Preparation at Rockland BOCES for Spring Valley High School and Ramapo High School senior students who couldn’t graduate in June 2015 due to failure of Regents Examination(s). The district covered the cost of the Summer Regents Review courses, transportation, and Regents examination fees to senior students who can graduate in August 2015. If this summer school option were not made available, these students would have to wait until January 2016 or June 2016 to sit for the Regents exams they needed to complete their graduation requirements.

Participants in the Finkelstein Library “Every Hero Has a Story” program have been having fun reading a variety of subjects, maintaining and enhancing their reading skills. The program reinforces children’s commitment, decision-making, and organizational skills. Since public libraries are the natural partners to schools, Finkelstein Library incorporates as many titles as possible from East Ramapo’s suggested reading list for the grade that students will be entering in the fall into their 2015 Summer Reading Program.

Photo: East Ramapo Teacher Jenna Marta with students in ESY program

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