Summer school for city kids

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says that summer school could be "crucial in preparing these students for the next level." More than 34,000 children in grades first through eighth are scheduled to attend summer school this year. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Ivan Pereira

Thousands of city school children will be trading the beach for a desk this summer to help them improve their academics, but a new state study released Tuesday says some high school graduates may need even more help.

More than 34,000 first- through eighth-graders will be in summer school this season. The number marks an increase of nearly 12,000 from last year when the city Department of Education used preliminary test results of state English and math exams to decide who needed the extra classes.

When the city got official test results back, the city DOE discovered that an additional 8,000 students should have been in summer school in 2010 and this year it re-evaluated its process, according to a spokesman.

“Before promoting any of these students to the next grade, we need to make sure they have mastered the skills needed to succeed. The extra time spent in summer school may be crucial in preparing these students for the next level,” city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

About 16,000 students did not meet the city DOE’s criteria on the English test this year, 10,000 did not meet the criteria on the math exam and nearly 8,000 did not meet criteria on both tests, according to a spokesman.

Monday’s summer school announcement came one day before the state Department of Education released new findings on the state of high school graduates in New York. Although the four-year graduation rate in the state rose from 71.8 percent in 2009 to 73.4 percent last year, the state said graduates who scored less than 80 on the English Regents and 75 below on the math Regents were more likely to require remedial help when they got into college.

State education officials said they are considering changing the graduation requirements to help students prepare for that leap to college.

“This data underscores the urgency of our efforts to continue to raise standards, improve assessments, and support the highest quality teaching in all of our classrooms,” Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a statement.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was happy with the state’s report that the city’s four-year graduation rate increased from 59 percent in 2009 to 65 percent last year. He cited changes in educational policy as the main factor for the increase.

“These new high school graduation rates are proof positive that the reforms we’ve adopted and the investments we’ve made are paying off in a big way,” he said in a statement.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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