Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Summer school begins

Reading skills primary focus

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Some 3,000 second- and third-graders reported to 62 Cincinnati elementary schools Monday for the opening day of summer school.

        The students — most of whom failed to meet the state's reading proficiency requirements — are required to attend the six-week summer session.

        Cincinnati Public Schools this year added another week to its mandatory Third-Grade Guarantee 2001 Sum mer School.

        The program is aimed at helping improve the literacy of those students who scored poorly on the reading portion of the proficiency test. Beginning in the 2001-02 school year, Ohio students must be held back in the fourth grade if they do not pass that grade level's reading proficiency exam.

        The first day went smoothly for teachers and students at Hyde Park Elementary School, said Principal

        Mary Ann Bernier. Some 80 to 90 students in grades one through four and six are registered for classes there this summer, she said.

        “These additional six weeks of class for these students really serves as an intervention for them,” Ms. Bernier said. “We don't see summer school as punitive. I think it's a tremendous way to give these students the extra help they need.”

        Ms. Bernier said there were only a few glitches on the first day of class: “Two of our students missed the bus, but other than that everything went really well.”

        Todd Davis, 10, and Veronica Barber, 10 — both third-graders at Hyde Park Elementary — sat in a classroom and listened to their teacher read excerpts from the book Aliens Don't Wear Braces. Following the reading, students were asked to respond to what they had heard visually by drawing pictures.

        While Todd and Veronica acknowledged the importance of summer school in helping them keep up with classmates and improve reading skills, they both admitted they would much rather be out having fun in the sun.

        “I'd rather be someplace else like at home or at the swimming pool,” said Todd, who is in summer school for the second straight year.

        However, he said he intends to work hard this summer so he doesn't have to repeat the session a third time.

        Last year, 55 percent of 2,466 Cincinnati Public third-graders who had not yet passed the reading proficiency test passed it after summer school and were promoted to fourth grade.

        While summer sessions can put a crimp in the summer plans of some of the district's 42,680 students, it can do the same for their parents and guardians.

        William Gordon of Evanston picked up his two nieces at Hyde Park Elementary at noon Monday. He said he and his family will have to constantly flex their schedules to accommodate the 8 a.m. to noon summer school hours. Busing is not available to all students' homes.

        “Today I'm picking them up. Tomorrow it'll be my sister and the next day probably somebody else,” Mr. Gordon said. “We've got the whole family on rotation.”

        But for others, like Jessie White of Hyde Park, whose 10-year-old granddaughter Terra Dennis attends summer school, it's not a problem at all. Ms. White, who owns a beauty shop, said her hours are very flexible so she can afford to pick up and watch her granddaughter after school lets out.

        “I think it's a good program that gives kids something to do and keeps them busy,” she said. “Terra likes it and looks forward to going every day.”


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