Teacher Perspective: Summer School Shouldn’t Mean Lower Expectations

As teachers and families begin a new school year, they have high hopes and expectations for the learning their children and students will do. However, some things do not go as planned and for a variety of reasons, students need to attend summer school to remediate credit. For some students, it’s because of their amount of absences, for others it’s due to a challenging academic schedule, and for others, it’s due to personal reasons. Nevertheless, summer school exists in high schools all over the United States. Although it takes place during the summer, this shouldn’t mean we lower academic expectations for students. Instead, we should be holding these expectations higher than ever to give students the opportunity to receive the individualized attention they deserve. The students in summer school typically have struggled to learn the necessary skills and master content during the school year. Because of this reality, we should be paying even closer attention during the summer in the hopes of getting them caught up on the learning skills and if possible, getting them ahead for the coming school year.

Earlier this school year, I signed on to teach summer school. I did this for a number of reasons, but the main one being my desire to provide students with high quality instruction, even during the summer session. During the school year, I worked really hard to instill interventions with students and their families to avoid them having to remediate sophomore English during the summer. However, this ended up being the case for some students, and I want to do my part of make sure that expectations remain high for them, as they have been during the school year.

It is my hope that we begin to move away from summer school for remediation purposes, and move towards providing summer sessions for students to get ahead in their academics and make them competitive in the college application process. For students of color in particular, summers often mean having to work or take care of younger siblings, according to a recent New York Times article. It’s important that we level the playing field to increase access to these “get ahead” options for our low income students of color. Below are some low cost and free resources where students can receive additional academic support through a rigorous environment:

  • Check out classes at your local community college. Most community colleges in California offer dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to participate in classes with other college students. This can be a great way to become familiarized with college level work and rigor.
  • Take an online course via the University of California. The UCs pride themselves in providing a world class higher education. The UC is now expanding this to include high school students looking for rigorous, online curriculum. All it takes to enroll is a short form indicating the support on behalf of the student, this can be filled out by an administrator or a guidance counselor.  

Build up your extracurriculars. Colleges love to see that students keep busy during the summer months off of school. If classes are not an option, then students can spend some time volunteering at a local organization or participating in clean up events in their city. It’s important to remain consistent in this type of community service, in order for colleges to see how dedicated students are to their communities.

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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