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School board drops summer school

Summer's in, school's out.

And that will be the case literally in McDuffie County since the Board of Education voted last Thursday to do away with summer school in all schools in the county.

"We want to give children every possible support, but also, we don't want to enable them to slack off in their regular classes," Barry O'Neill said in a presentation last Tuesday morning during the BOE planning meeting. As the assistant superintendent in curriculum and instruction, Dr. O'Neill oversees end of year testing and summer school.

The summer program actually is being phased out across the state after last year's situation of low CRCT scores in mathematics across the state. It was due to confusion in the implementation of new curriculum and caused a high enrollment of middle school students in summer school. In order for schools to make Annual Yearly Progress as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, the state had to make an exception to include summer school Criterion Referenced Competency Tests retakes in the regular AYP results.

As a result, the state now guarantees CRCT results back within three to five days, so schools will have time to offer CRCT remediation, acceleration and retest preparation the last two to three weeks of school. Test retakes will take place during teacher's postplanning sessions in May.

"Not only does this give us the obvious financial advantage, but we have the availability of the schools' full tool box of faculty to teach and not just those who we can get to come back during the summer," Dr. O'Neill said during the presentation.

Dr. O'Neill said the school system spent $159,852 on summer school salaries last year. Transportation for students and energy costs were an additional expense. Two years ago, the McDuffie School System began combining elementary summer schools into one facility to help cut costs.

With the exception of last year's statewide middle school CRCT fiasco, Dr. O'Neill said enrollment in summer school has dwindled the last few years because schools offer other programs throughout the year, such as test prep classes and winter break classes, which have increased the percentage of students being promoted before summer.

The high school, which uses the Georgia High School Graduation Tests instead of the CRCT as their AYP indicator, also will not have summer school. Dr. O'Neill said the high school already offers after school tutoring, morning and evening school, extended semester classes and required GHSGT review classes.

"If you can't graduate from THS, it's because you don't deserve to graduate from school. We put in a lot more intervention programs than any other system," Principal Rudy Falana said to the board members.

Web posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009

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