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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

For Schenectady middle-schoolers, a summer to try again

For Schenectady middle-schoolers, a summer to try again

About a third of the middle-school students who failed math are sweating it out in an all-new summer
For Schenectady middle-schoolers, a summer to try again
Joshua Conway teaches a summer school science class to middle school students at Schenectady High School on Tuesday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Failure rate

The results in Schenectady middle schools; some students failed more than one course.

• Math 7: 167 failed, 55 retaking

• Math 8: 158 failed, 55 retaking

• English 7: 122 failed, 35 retaking

• English 8: 106 failed, 43 retaking

• Science 7: 104 failed, 17 retaking

• Science 8: 96 failed, 24 retaking

• Social Studies 7: 80 failed, 26 retaking

• Social Studies 8: 110 failed, 22 retaking

Source: Schenectady City School District

About a third of the middle-school students who failed math are sweating it out in an all-new summer school.

Schenectady offered summer school to middle-school students for the first time this year, and added busing to make it easier to get to class.

But even with busing, many children are staying home. Of the 158 eighth-graders who failed math, 55 are retaking it this summer.

Similarly, there are 43 eighth-graders retaking English. Another 63 students failed but didn’t sign up for summer school.

Overall, 163 students signed up to retake math, English, science or social studies — the only courses offered to seventh- and eighth-graders.

Schools Superintendent Laurence Spring said the enrollment figures were acceptable for the first year of a new program.

“Making the choice to go to summer school is not an easy choice, but learning is effort-based,” he said.

He said, “163 kids, I think that’s a good place to start. I’m pretty OK with that as our first go-round.”

But he added that he thinks summer school is better for them than repeating the class for an entire year — which is what the rest of the students will have to do.

“It’s very, very rare you need to repeat an entire course,” he said, explaining that the typical student missed some concepts — not everything.

“There’s just a little more work you need to do,” he said.

But once they “catch up” enough to pass the course, he said, it’s too late in the school year to jump into the next year’s class.

“It’s a little bit more of a complex problem,” he said.

So Spring would rather have them take an intense course over the summer and then start the year in the next class.

Because so many students did not choose to take summer school, teachers will create “recovery plans” for them next year, he said. The goal is to avoid holding students back, because students who are held back twice are least likely to graduate from high school, he said.

Some students could take double classes — catching up on seventh-grade English while also taking eighth-grade English, for example, or take remedial classes to help support them in the new course.

For those who are held back, school officials want to find ways to help them catch up so that they could eventually return to their peers.

“We’re recognizing there needs to be an intensity of effort,” he said.

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