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Summer school changes in Grandview bring success

GRANDVIEW - Grandview School District Summer School Administrator Pam Noel presented the annual summer school report at Monday night's school board meeting, citing an increase in student success.

Noel told the school board that the program included three subjects for English as a Second Language (ESL) students. The three subjects included Washington state history, English acquisition and math.

Because students need a greater core curriculum in the ESL program, many were only able to earn elective credits. However, the students in the Washington state history class were able to work on their portfolios, perform group work, give class presentations and take a tour of an Indian cultural center as part of the life application portion of the class.

Noel stated that each of the components is important in achieving success in obtaining full credit for Washington state history.

She explained that the history classes offered during the 2007 summer school were important especially for eighth graders who need to obtain credit for Washington state history.

"Many of them don't always understand the class is a credited class in eighth grade. So, our numbers were higher and an additional teacher was needed," Noel told the board.

When asked why the eighth graders don't understand the importance of the class, she explained that even the parents do not understand the required course is credited because "...there isn't a credit system in place at the middle school."

She suggested a gradual credit system might assist students and parents in understanding the need for particular courses, explaining that the school district should emphasize the courses need to be passed to obtain the credits.

"Teachers can tell the eighth graders that they only need a 63 percent to pass in eighth grade, but they need a 75 percent to pass in summer school," Noel stated.

She noted that the increase in students taking the summer school course is due to the realization that the class is necessary to graduate high school. "They are realizing it," said Noel, pointing out that the realization comes after the course has already been taken and failed at the middle school.

Other classes offered during the 2007 summer school included math courses in Integrated 1 and Integrated 2. The teacher was able to write the curriculum for the courses in order to address students on a semester basis. The classes were able to be taught during different periods so that students needing to earn credit for a particular semester could take the course that directly addressed the semester needed.

Noel said the teachers and students were particularly pleased with the curriculum in the various subjects covered during summer school. "It is hard to work on packets. So, there was more instruction and less packet work," she explained.

Another successful course offered was the Portable Assisted Study Sequence (PASS) course. Noel said the number of students working on their workbooks increased enough to require two additional hours for the instructor.

"The WASL course combined reading and writing," Noel told the school board, explaining the two elements of the test required two hours each. She was not pleased with the number of students wishing to sign up for the math portion of the WASL courses, citing the course is a four-hour class and the students were not interested in it.

"They don't think it is important," Noel explained when asked why she felt students were not interested in the class.

Of the 166 students attending summer school classes, 128 of them earned credits. In 2006, 97 of the 141 students attending summer school earned credits, and 109 of the 152 students attending summer school in 2005 earned credits.

Grandview School District Superintendent Kevin Chase expressed his appreciation for the successes Noel cited by saying, "It seems good instruction is the anecdote to success."

Grandview School Board President Tim Grow also noted his delight by stating, "I hope we will continue to see the (success) numbers grow in the years to come."

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