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Voluntary summer school program draws 13,400 students

Students are going to summer school willingly to participate in free STEAM courses like robotics.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Naeisha Rose

Summer schools are teeming with city kids this year, despite a drop in the number of students who need the requisite session to move forward.

Enrollment for the $86 million Summer in the City program, a combination of supplemental classes and summer school, is serving 30,000 students in the five boroughs from July 5 to Aug. 15 within 250 sites, according to the Department of Education.

Some 13,400 students are voluntarily going to school during this season for “hands-on, STEM-oriented and college-aligned curricula, as well as educational visits to New York City cultural institutions,” the DOE said.

SITC is a part of the DOE’s Equity and Excellence for All initiative which aims to have 80 percent of students finishing high school on time, and two-thirds of those graduates college-ready by 2026. It offers classes in robotics, coding, ecology, literacy and exposure to the arts, according to city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

The other classes include: English Language Learning, classes for second graders who are struggling in literacy, and DREAM classes to help middle-school children of color get into specialized high schools.

“These summer enrichment programs are part of our work to deliver equity and excellence for students, and I encourage families to find a Summer in the City program that will support their child’s learning,” Fariña said.

The remaining students mandated to attend the program are part of an 0.6 percent drop in summer school attendees from last year, according to data from the DOE.

In April 2014, Fariña held a press conference and stated that she would ease the requirement for students to advance a grade by authorizing a more holistic approach to evaluating students between third and eighth grade.

By moving kids forward based on a combination of overall classroom performance and standardized testing, as opposed to just the series of obligatory exams, fewer children have been forced to have to go to summer school or get held back, according to data on the DOE website.

In 2013, over 32,000 students were instructed to attend summer school and almost 4,000 were held back, according to the DOE.

There has been a drop in required summer school attendance every year since the rule was enacted in 2014. At the end of that same year, fewer than 23,000 students were in summer school. In 2015, a little over 19,300 were in summer school and fewer than 18,000 students had to attend in 2016. In 2017, fewer than 16,600 needed summer school as a prerequisite to advance a grade, according to the DOE data.

Last year, fewer than 1,800 students were held back a grade.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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