School’s out, but not for everybody.
Several districts in the Spokane area have reported an increase in the number of students – from both the elementary and secondary grade levels – enrolled in summer school classes this year. The WASL has a lot to do with it, with some students taking classes to help them pass the high-stakes test and others getting required classes out of the way so they have time for more WASL prep during the school year.
“We actually ran out of catalogs,” said Melanie Rose, spokeswoman for the Central Valley School District, which experienced a 30 percent increase in summer school enrollment. Classes began Monday.
Mead School District, which began last week, reported a 10 percent increase. Spokane Public Schools doesn’t have a districtwide summer school program, making enrollment difficult to track, said Terren Roloff, district spokeswoman. Each high school offers courses, and school started last week, Roloff said. Some elementary schools, especially those in lower-income communities, will offer programs later in the summer.
The biggest increase in summer school participation appears to be from students who performed poorly on the WASL this spring, area school district officials said.
Students needing to make up credits for courses they failed must pay for them – nearly $200 per class. But most districts received money from a state fund called Promoting Academic Success to provide extra coursework to help students who did not meet the standard on the WASL, as most people call the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, the state’s answer to the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Passing the reading and writing portions of the test is required for graduation starting with next year’s senior class.
While the math portion of the exam was delayed by the Legislature until 2013, students who have not yet passed that portion of the WASL must take additional math courses.
For the Class of 2008, that means an extra year of math they didn’t count on.
According to scores released by the state in June, more than 21,000 students have yet to pass the math WASL.
Many of them are faced with taking required courses this summer to make room for math in their schedule next year. Seniors often look forward to having empty periods in their school day.
“It really bites” having to take extra math as a CV senior, said Paige Hood, 17.
Instead of taking WASL remediation courses, Hood is taking government and contemporary world problems this summer – both required courses for graduation and typically taken junior or senior year. CV’s Rose said enrollment in these two courses nearly doubled from last year.
Students like Hood, who failed the math portion of the WASL, are likely taking the classes to get them out of the way. That leaves room during the school year for more math, electives like music or even the coveted free period.
“Just to get ahead … you get it in five weeks and it’s easier,” said CV student Steve Brown of the shorter summer-school courses.
Brown didn’t pass the math portion of the WASL, and neither did summer school classmates J’me Snider, Katie Mager or Brittne Marvin.
“I think our class got punished because they (the state) didn’t know what they were going to do about the WASL,” said Snider, 17.