Fewer Hawaii schools offer summer classes
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Education Writer
The number of public schools offering traditional summer school has dropped to 37, with dozens more expected to provide "extended learning opportunities" to students who need the most help over the seven-week break.
The number of summer school sites is down from last year's total of 48, with only 17 high schools — none in Windward O'ahu — included on the tentative list released yesterday by the Department of Education.
Officials say this doesn't mean students will be left behind, especially high schoolers who may need to make up credits from classes they failed during the regular academic year.
Dozens of Title I elementary and intermediate schools are expected to hold "extended learning opportunities" for students struggling in the core content areas of reading and math. More than 90 schools held such tutoring sessions over the summer break last year, and officials expect a similar number this year.
Many high schools, including Castle High School and Kahuku High & Intermediate in Windward O'ahu, are expected to offer online courses or summer classes to their own students, so that those who may have failed a class can recover the credits needed to graduate on time.
"The schools are trying to create opportunities that best fit the needs of their students with the available funding that they have," said Lea Albert, complex area superintendent for Castle-Kahuku. "Our goal is have students recover credits, but it doesn't necessarily have to be done through conventional summer school."
In fact, traditional summer school has been on the decline since 2004, when more than 75 schools opened their campuses over the break. Officials say that schools — mainly high schools — have switched to alternative options for students to make up missed course credits, including online classes and after-school classes known as "twilight school."
For instance, Castle High School will be using a program called Novanet, where teachers offer classes in math, English, science, social studies that students can take online, Albert said.
"We're looking at new ways of reaching students," she said.
Hilary Apana-Mckee of the DOE's E-School and Hawaii Virtual Learning Network, said there was a 52 percent increase in enrollment in online courses last year. About 40 summer classes will be offered online, she said.
"Schools are beginning to consider ways in which online learning can assist students seeking credit recovery," she said.
Daniel Hamada, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and student support, said many of the schools on the lower grade levels likely will offer summer options for students, including tutoring in core subject areas.
Title I schools, or schools with the majority of students coming from low-income homes, will be making use of some $33 million in federal money to offer "extended learning opportunities" to students who are falling behind in math or reading.
Geri Ann Honda, school improvement specialist for the DOE, said the "extended learning opportunities" will vary from school to school, and parents should check with the principal at their child's school to get information on which summer options will be available.
Tutoring options will focus on boosting low test scores at chronically underperforming schools, Honda said.
"When schools got their (Hawaii State Assesment) scores, they were supposed to look at what the data were telling them in terms of which benchmarks their students need help in. The summer programs will be geared toward just those benchmarks," she said.