This year in Philadelphia, summer school looked different – one of the opening initiatives of the District’s Imagine 2014 strategic plan – and reached an estimated 32,000 students, up from about 22,000 last year.
The core morning program, with an enrollment of 27,000, was expanded beyond failing students to include those attending low-scoring Empowerment Schools who were at risk for summer learning loss. Special education students were also integrated into regular classrooms.
During the afternoons, enrichment programs were open to all students K-12. Classes ran the gamut from forensic science to arts to driver’s education.
Denise Wing, summer program co-chair, said enrichment provided students with opportunities “that sometimes their suburban counterparts may have routinely.”
The District estimates that morning attendance averaged 22,600, while more than 9,000 students daily took advantage of afternoon enrichment programs.
In addition, three-day bridge programs were offered to incoming kindergartners and 6th and 9th graders at Empowerment Schools. Department of Labor grants supported four- to six-week bridge programs to ease the transition for incoming 9th graders at seven comprehensive high schools.
Richard Joseph, who heads the 9th grade academy at West Philadelphia High School, said he believed the extended summer bridge was successful but under-enrolled. For next year, he said, he and his teachers will reflect on “what we need to do to get more kids.” A week before startup, only one student was registered, so he and teachers knocked on doors. Out of about 280 incoming 9th graders, they had 70 students at their peak, but this dropped to 53 at the program’s midway point, he said.
While enrollment fell short of a District goal of 39,000, the summer program stayed within budget, costing $21 million, including $1.5 million to install more air conditioners.