Cover Story: Summer
in New York City
Almost 300,000 Attend Summer School
one third of all students in the New York City Board of Education
will be attending summer school this year, according to the Board’s
pre-registration statistics. In grades 3-8, 72,074 students are
mandated to attend summer school, up from 62,537 last year, and
almost 152,000 high school students are pre-registered for Summer
These numbers do not necessarily reflect worse performance on
the part of students. “We are doing an outreach program, the likes
of which the City has never seen before,” explained Schools Chancellor
Harold O. Levy at a recent Board meeting. This year, for the first
time, the homes of the 272,000 students who received ‘promotion
in doubt’ letters in February were called with a message from
the Chancellor letting them know about summer school. And, for
those students who do not show up for class, there will be more
phone calls and letters. “For the first time in a long time, we
are using all the different kinds of technology to get in touch
with parents,” explained Levy. Besides letters and phone calls
in multiple languages, the Board is reaching out to parents and
students via television and print ads, as well as through a hotline
and a survey.
Why is the Board making such an effort to make sure students attend—and
keep on attending—summer school? According to Levy, there is a
distinct correlation between attendance and raised reading scores.
“What we couldn’t say last year, but we can say this year, is
that summer school works,” he stressed.
Promotion is based on several factors, including attendance and
teacher evaluations, not just standardized tests. It is a “judgment
of the whole student’s work,” explained Brian Murrow, Superintendent
of Summer School. Irene Impellizzeri, Board member, questioned
the promotion criteria, pointing out the necessity of establishing
“the validity of teacher judgment.”
Unlike the regular academic year, finding teachers for summer
school appears not to have been a problem. Almost 22,000 teachers
applied for 17,000 spots, according to Murrow. All but ten principals
will be working this summer along with 1,375 assistant principals
and supervisors. Students will also be working with 1,250 new
Teaching Fellows who “will be using the summer almost like a student
teaching experience,” explained Murrow. Often, these Fellows will
be working in the same schools where they will end up in the fall.
Teach for America and Summer in the City will also be involved
in putting young people into teaching positions.
Summer school is not just for those students whose promotions
are in question. The Board also provides enrichment options, including
10,000 spots in residential and day Breakaway Camps. Ultimately,
summer school is just one program the Chancellor and the Board
are using in order to improve student performance. Levy is realistic
about the goals of the five-week program. “Summer school is not
going to cure a problem that has existed for eight years,” he
said. But regardless of skill level or promotion status, he encourages
anyone to go. “If your skills are weak, you ought to go.” #
more information about registration, call the Summer School Hotline
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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the publisher. © 2001.