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District summer school report: Incomplete

By Paul Socolar on Nov 18, 2010 12:58 PM

Getting detailed and accurate numbers for summer school participation in Philadelphia has long been a challenge, and yesterday was no exception.

District Chief Academic Officer David Weiner presented a report to the School Reform Commission on the success of the District's 2010 summer program, S.L.A.M., pointing to record participation and evidence of academic impact but lacking important information about how many students actually showed up.

The presentation highlighted the fact that "58,511 students ... participated in this year’s summer programs - 33% of total enrollment." Weiner went on to say that "eight in 10" students attended daily.

But his presentation includes a footnote that these attendance rates were among students who attended five days or more.

Weiner clarified afterward that students who don't show up should be considered essentially dropped from the rolls and hence they were not counted in the attendance rate. He said the pricetag of the program dropped from $47 million to $42 million in part due to no-shows.

How many students actually did attend summer programs for five days or more? The District has not yet responded to the Notebook's request for information on that.

An earlier estimate of summer attendance provided by the District to the Notebook in August was that 42,000 attended daily.

Similarly, the presentation notes that "participants in both Empowerment and Non-Empowerment schools evidenced significantly greater gains in reading and math achievement than matched comparison peers who did not participate in summer programming," but qualifies that statement as only applying to students who attended 16 days or more. The Notebook requested but has not received data on how many of the summer school participants met that criterion.

Comparing this year's participation to last year's, Wednesday's District presentation cited a figure of 23,758 participants in 2009. Last year, after the program launched, participation for that same program was estimated at 40,000. Later press accounts downgraded that number to 32,000.

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Comments (10)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2010 3:22 pm

I'd question any data. As an SBIS, we were asked to send in "enrollment" data at the end of the program - not "attendance." Based on attendance at the high school level, there were classes with 2 - 3 students. Some teachers only taught two classes. Weiner, Ackerman ,et al can play with numbers all they like. They can not justify the expense with the outcome.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on November 19, 2010 6:03 am

I would also love to know how they are reporting growth or lack of loss in reading levels. We did not do DRA tests at the end of the program, which is the data used to place the kids in the program at the younger levels. How can we report growth in another format? If one system is used to go in, then that system needs to be used to show growth.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2010 2:55 am

True and what assessments are they talking about, can you ask them what assessment data they are using to say that children did better in both math and reading?? wasn't DRA as we now know or the Gates reading assessment, children were placed in summer program based on reading levels and math grades

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2010 1:40 pm

Eventually 440 will figure out that you must actually allow teachers time to teach BEFORE you do assessing. Too much time is spent testing over and over then forcing everyone to read the data. If we aren't allowed to teach there will no data.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on November 20, 2010 2:46 pm

but - if you do not test the summer school kids before they leave summer, then you wait until the September teachers start teaching, you are not measuring summer school growth - you are assessing what was lost over Auguat and gained in September. The only way to assess what is gaine din a summer program is to test it then. The summer program was 22 days and 5 were reserved for testing. 17 dyas of teaching is really not going to show anything.

Submitted by Mrs. G (not verified) on November 21, 2010 9:22 am

I wonder who they'll blame when all of this comes crashing down. Our school are being systematically destroyed and the only ones suffering are our students. Compromising content, eliminating the arts, scripted programs that have been proven ineffective, all for the sake of a single test that doesn't always measure what it's supposed to measure. And summer school is and always has been a joke. You fail the year, complete 22 days of summer school and miraculously you're ready for the next grade. Really!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 21, 2010 4:20 pm

They will blame the same people they ALWAYS blame--the teachers Duh?

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on November 22, 2010 12:21 pm

Why are you wondering who they will blame - it is always and forever our fault when anything and everything goes wrong.

Submitted by Maryjane (not verified) on November 23, 2010 10:40 am

It would be interesting to see how many really did enroll versus how many attended on a regular basis. I think this is an enormous amount of money for the very little that appeared to be present.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 23, 2010 9:24 pm

At my school, empowerment, there were so many teachers that they doubled teachers to classes just to have them 'teach'. Some room only had 5-10 students tops with 2 teachers. Pay was great for what was actually required to do. Ready for Summer 2011!!

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