2018 Apr 18: RISD Summer School

Rockdale ISD campuses are in their last six weeks of school, and there are plenty of activities that occur at the end of every school year. However, on May 24th, Senior Graduation day, our schools don’t completely close their doors until August. This year the designated campuses for RISD Summer School are the Rockdale Intermediate School and Rockdale High School. Elementary and intermediate school students will have classes at RIS.  Junior high and high school students will have classes at RHS. This week Rockdale Intermediate School Principal Mrs. Kathy Pelzel has very interesting historical and research based facts regarding the summer and educating our youth.

It is commonly believed that students had summer vacation a century ago in order to ensure their farming parents had the help they needed at home. This is actually incorrect. Throughout the 1800’s schools were open during the winter and summer because farm help was needed during spring planting and fall harvest. Our current tradition of summer vacation began in the 1930’s. The reasoning was experts at the time believed that the mental exertion of learning would cause brain injury if it was prolonged. Of course today we know this is not true but the tradition continues.

In today’s world a much greater number of families have both parents working full time. This makes summer vacation a struggle to provide childcare. Students, and low income students in particular, are more likely to be left in self care. This means a lot of screen time in front of a computer, tablet, or television. This leaves the students vulnerable to summer learning loss, boredom, and high risk behaviors. In fact today the need for summer education far outstrips the ability of school districts.

Studies show that students experience a loss of knowledge and skills over the summer break due to the lack of mental exercise. The effects are more significant for low income students which serves to widen the learning gap between low and high income students over time. Teachers lose a month of class time at the beginning of each academic year refreshing students on the things they have “forgotten” over the three month period. Some students don’t recover this knowledge as quickly as others so they struggle through the beginning of each school year.

RISD does offer summer education for our students. This time is used for credit recovery and remediation. For students who catch up to their peers during this time, it allows teachers to reinforce skills thereby minimizing the typical summer losses. High income students typically make slight gains in reading skills during the summer where low income students usually have a loss. Summer education programs allow students to close this gap and be fully prepared for the next school year.

Finally, consider that 20 million students in America receive free lunch through the National School Lunch Program. It is much more difficult to serve those in need during the summer since we do not always have access to these students. Summer education puts them right where they need to be so we have an opportunity to ensure they are nourished both mentally and physically.

The summer education programs around the state provide a plethora of benefits to a large number of students. Rockdale continues to contribute to these efforts. Our goal is to graduate highly educated and prepared young adults. This benefits all of us in many ways and we appreciate all the community support we receive to make this happen.