Education leaders considering extended summer program to include reading and math

VIDEO: Education leaders considering extended summer program to include reading and math

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Education leaders from across South Carolina met Thursday morning to talk about how best to proceed with summer learning activities and how schools and districts can best restart in the fall.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Molly Spearman, South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education.

Students have lost 30% of face-to-face time in schools because of COVID-19.

“We know we’re going to have some major make up time,” Spearman said.

Spearman asked the AccelerateED Task Force to come up with recommendations in terms of education over the summer and for when the new school year starts in August.

The task force was divided into three committees:

  • Buildings and Student Services: This committee will look at safety and health considerations, social and emotional needs of the students, how social distancing will work in schools, etc.
  • Instruction: This committee will look at 4-K through 12th grade, standards that need addressing and how classroom learning will look once students go back to school.
  • Operations and Administration: This committee will primarily be looking at the ways transportation for students will work.

Dr. David Mathis lead the discussion about what a summer program will look like. The Division of College and Career Readiness have been working the last couple of weeks on a face-to-face program and a backup virtual option.

“We are recommending a minimum of a four week program where we focus on English Language Arts and Math,” Mathis said. “We know there needs to be some flexibility with the time but 90 to 120 minutes of ELA instruction and 50 minutes of math.”

Mathis said the program could operate in districts with a morning session and an afternoon session.

If the face-to-face program pans out, transportation and meal services would be provided.

“Prior to the school closures, most districts had identified students who were showing difficulty in ELA and had identified them more than likely to receive support during the traditional summer camp,” Mathis said. “So using that pool of students and expanding that for each Kindergarten through third grade student who may be showing difficulty in ELA and Math.”

They are looking at starting this program in July. Mathis said the assessment of students would continue in the fall.

“Here is a situation where we can’t do everything but what we do we want to matter most,” Mathis said.

They taskforce will also be looking at measures to help students with their social and emotional needs, not just academic.

Normally, South Carolina gets about $8 million in funding for the summer reading camp that would be held under Read to Succeed. Spearman said about 14,000 students are generally identified to participate in that program and about half actually attend.

With this extended reading and math summer program, Spearman said that could cost anywhere between $35 million and $50 million. She said districts would have to pay for the program up front, but that money is reimbursable.

South Carolina is expected to receive $216,311,158 in ESSER funds from the CARES Act, of which 90%, $194,680,042, will flow through to school districts with amounts determined in proportion to the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in Summer 2019 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This document shows how much CARES Act funding each S.C. district with receive. CCSD is getting $13,408,022.

The remaining funds will be used for state-level activities to address issues caused by COVID-19. Spearman said they are considering using some of that money to get a Learning Management System. She said it would greatly improve online learning across the state.

Spearman has asked districts to come up with how they are thinking about spending the money, particularly around technology. She said technology is a top priority for about half of the districts in the state.

Details are still being worked out in regards to what it looks like when students return for the new school year in August. Leaders, a part of the AccelerateED Task Force, have been asked to come up with how a typical classroom would look as they would follow social distancing guidelines. They will also be looking at possible scheduling changes and flexible options districts can utilize.

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