NORMAN — Summer vacation is a precious time coveted and cherished by students of all ages, but for many students, it’s also a crucial time for keeping up academically.
Spanning June and July, hundreds of Norman Public Schools students from K-12 are getting up early and going to school so as to stay on track for matriculation through the grades and ultimately graduate.
“Enrollment numbers usually fluctuate down a little, this year we have 410 elementary students (grades kindergarten to fourth), 100 middle school students (grades fifth to eighth) and 119 traditional classroom high school students, with an additional 69 taking online courses, “ said Assistant Superintendent Shirley Simmons.
With higher standards set by Common Core for reading levels, the importance of aiding students who score too low on aptitude exams has never been higher.
“Some big changes we’ve made are extending summer school through July for middle school students. Kids need extended opportunities to be reading,” Simmons said. “Also, high school students who fail Algebra 1, English 1 or English 2 may take it during the summer for free so students have less obstacles to graduation.”
Criteria for elementary and middle school students needing summer school is based upon a cutoff score in reading exams, as determined by the district’s literacy department and principals, but the ultimate deciding factor is a student’s socioeconomic standing.
“Summer school students in elementary and middle school have to be from a Title 1 school (schools which receive federal funding due to a large population of low-income students) or, if they are not from a Title 1 school, they must be on the free and reduced lunch program,” Simmons said.
These criteria are in place because the district uses federal funds to pay for elementary and middle summer school (high school summer courses charge fees), and therefore must uphold these stipulations on student eligibility.