“What’s the plan in the meantime?”

Lee School District looks to ‘summer school’

Published in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze Jan. 22, 2015 issue

The School District of Lee County has eliminated private tutoring after they opted not to renew a yearly contract. A fifth quarter option of additional instruction will be implemented this summer.

The concept of the extended learning proposal, the fifth quarter, was brought forth to the school board at the beginning of December during a briefing meeting.

The fifth quarter will be held for 25 days with 75 hours of instruction, which breaks down to four hours a day with two hours of reading instruction and an hour of math. It will also include breakfast and lunch.

According to information presented at the meeting, the students eligible for fifth quarter are those who score below proficiency at a level one or level two, based on mid-year STAR and Early STAR assessments. Students who score at a borderline three level may have the opportunity to participate in the fifth quarter through a recommendation by a teacher or administrator.

The program will be located at the nine lowest 300 list in Title I schools, which includes Bonita Springs Elementary, Colonial Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Franklin Park Elementary, James Stephens, Lehigh Elementary, Manatee Elementary, Orange River Elementary, Ray V. Pottorf Elementary, Tortuga Preserve Elementary and West Zone 3rd Grade Reading Camp site at Patriot Elementary.

Board Member Cathleen Morgan said she has seen the numbers that the district put together about the after school tutoring. She said the fact that student gains did not meet expectations; she believes the fifth semester is the right decision because the district should get better gains with that tactic.

“The numbers didn’t show we were getting the bang for the buck,” Board Member Steve Teuber said about the learning gains.

He said the tutoring did not get discontinued; it just went from external to internal.

“We have to do what is best for our students and our taxpayers,” Teuber said.

Board Member Mary Fischer said she thinks the fifth quarter is a good idea.

“According to information we have from research and past practice, we know that when kids have support over the summer it helps them to maintain and continue their gain,” she said.

In addition, fifth quarter is really good for a lot of parents because the kids might otherwise be on their own during the day over the summer. With daily reinforcement and support, Fischer said it will allow the students to continue to progress.

“Our goal is to get the kids up to where they need to be,” she said. “These are the kids that really need the additional academic support.”

That additional support, Fischer said provides more success in that type of environment that improves their motivation and confidence level.

There is one concern however with the fifth quarter.

Fischer said her concern is for the children that are in the private tutoring program and are making progress.

“What’s the plan in the meantime between January and the beginning of June,” she asked. “What happens to those kids that are making progress and getting support?”

Many of the students received support after school, in their own environment and on the weekends, Fischer said, during their private tutoring. She said the students developed relationships with their tutors during that time.

“My concern is we must have some kind of plan for those children to maintain their progress between now and June. I would like to see us continue that tutoring until the end of the school year, so we don’t interrupt that positive progress,” Fischer said.

Board Member Pamela LaRiviere said she was torn with all kinds of feelings on the tutoring issue.

“I understand the power behind the fifth quarter as well,” she said during the meeting. “Maybe there will be something we can come up with in the meantime. I don’t know what that will be and how that will come. Maybe we can create something and think outside of the box and maybe someone will donate some money that will help pay for that.”

Superintendent Nancy Graham told the board members during the Jan. 13 meeting that the only reasoning for the timing of the cancelation of private tutoring is because of the January-to- January contract.

“We weren’t able to extend for another six months without going into another year,” she said. “We continue to have extensive instruction during the day. Superstars, which is a program we do, is still in place. The children that were using outside matters are able to get into that program without any issues.”