Why Summer School rules? : The Reason to say “YES!” to Summer School

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Imagine you are an 8th grade student who opened a letter that contains the result your English Language Arts examination or your Math examination and realize that you received a two or failed. Your heart stops for a moment as you think about what choices you have. Your school does not have a co-taught class so you are either left with grade retention (getting held back), summer school or moving forward with your life and going to 9th grade. At the surface moving on and going to 9th grade might seem like the best choice, but it will definitely haunt you in the future. So you might just accept that you are going to retake the grade. This seems like a good choice too, because you can re learn it, but it also has cons of its own the advantages of it will wear out in a few years, you are more likely to drop out in high school because you might be bullied and feel alone. Also your parents are probably not going to be too happy that they have to another year of taxes for your school and that you did not graduate with your peers. Now you think that summer school is probably the best option and you would be right. Summer schools offer educations in different forms in a more relaxed focused environment. For kids who fail the ELA8 or the Math8 summer school is the best way to relearn and retain covered information.

Some might argue that the other two options are better such as grade retention. However there are several disadvantages to grade retention. According to Colleen Shea Stump, Ph.D., the chairperson of the Department of Special Education at San Francisco State University Academic, there are four major problems with grade retention. 1. “Achievement gains associated with retention fade within two to three years after the grade repeated.” 2. “Grade retention has a negative impact on all areas of a child's achievement (reading, math, and language) and socio-emotional adjustment (peer relationships, self-esteem, problem behaviors and attendance).” 3. “Students who are retained are more likely to drop out of school compared to students who were never retained. In fact, grade retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout.” 4. “Retention is more likely to have benign or positive impact when students are not simply held back, but receive specific remediation to address skill and/or behavioral problems and promote achievement and social skills.”. This is not good news. In grade retention, kids are held back are forced to study with kids younger than they are. This will make the child who is held back feel left out because he/she will no longer be with the kids he used to and will feel embarrassed anytime one of his peers crosses him the hallway. This sensitive reaction will hang a bright target around the kid’s neck causing him/her to get bullied. If kids who are held back take summer school instead, they will be among peers of their own caliber of learning. Also, point number four shows that there is one positive of grade retention however, most of the time students are simply held back and there is no extra focus on them. Denise Witmer the author of two books on children expresses that unlike in grade retention “During summer school, [a] teen will be able to focus on just that particular class. Remember, [a] teen is facing [a lot of] of stress… Summer school will help those teens who get overloaded by having too many classes to focus on at one time.”. It also “tends to be more relaxed with smaller classes – it’s the optimal learning environment in which all teens could benefit. Couple that with having a different teacher who uses their unique teaching approach and your teen may do very well with the subject that he/she previously failed. Teens, such as these, do well in summer school and often become more positive about their academics.”. When special attention is not given to students, the effects of the grade retention will become obsolete as expressed by Stump. Grade retention is a horrible path that will ultimately ruin your life.
Some kids may also feel that it is okay to go to 9th grade now because they know that they will be retaught the same material at the beginning of the school year to review and build on. However the teachers have in mind that the kids have already learned the materiel so it will be like trying to turn on a light bulb that already works but hasn’t been used for a long time. Whereas the kid who was supposed to go to summer school doesn’t have the light bulb yet so he/she is definitely not going to turn it on. This starts a vicious cycle. Each year the some kid learns some of the material and the school lets him go to the next grade and next year they review it but only for a day or two and that kid is left behind. Now he/she is left with an even more daunting school year because he/she will no longer understand some of what is being taught that is new because it builds off the previous year. According to the article “Primer on Summer Learning Loss”, “All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer vacation.”. Also, “On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Studies reveal that the greatest areas of summer loss for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, are in factual or procedural knowledge.”. This basically says if a kid is behind before the summer he will definitely be behind after summer. It also shows that in an average child 2.6 months’ worth of education is lost over the summer. If a kid learns less than the average child he/she will lose even more. Overlooking a grade is a big mistake guaranteed to be regretted later in life.
Finally there is the option of summer school. Although it may not the most fun approach kids who failed their grade level examinations will certainly be relived down the line, and they might even enjoy themselves with the right mind set. One opposition to summer school is that it is too expensive. If schools can have an art class or an EP class how can they not have a summer school? The town or county can just increase the taxes or maybe make the kids’ parents pay for it or even let them do community service in exchange for summer school if it comes to that. There are many pros to summer school and it is way too important for kids who are behind to miss out because of a decreased budget. According Eric Garneau who is a “freelance writer” with a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy, said pros include: “[helps] failing students ”, “…schools that still offer summer school may participate with local museums, libraries or attractions to try to make learning fun.”, “Helps keep kids occupied and out of trouble”, “Provides a break from more structured school-year learning”, “Allows for more personalized teacher-student relationships” and “Allows teachers already earning meager wages an opportunity to make more money.” Different kids learn in different ways and going to libraries and attractions might help because there is difference between reading works of Mark Twain and going to a museum about Mark Twain and learning about him. It might trigger something. It also keeps them out of trouble which means summer school might get a kid a better collage than an average kid because they don’t have a juvie record. Also more personalized relationship means that the teacher can attend to the weaknesses rather than go over everything again. Not mentioned in the fact that summer school lets parents avoid paying an extra year of taxes in high tax area and get a good education. Finally it helps teachers earn some money a win-win-win situation for kids, parents and teachers alike.

So for that kid who failed his grade level examination, summer school might be the best option. “Might” is not a strong word, but it does imply that there is hope, no matter how desperate his/her situation is. That is probably all he/ she needs, they aren’t bad kids. They just need hope and maybe a push in the right direction that direction is “S” for summer school.





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