The majority of summer school students are catching up on classes they struggled with during the school year, while some are using summer school as a way to get ahead in their high school careers.
The Cobb County School District has decentralized its summer school program this year, according to Mary Elizabeth Davis, Cobb schools’ chief academic officer.
“Several schools had an interest in customizing the program to meet their community’s specific needs,” Davis said. “We have several high schools offering summer school programs, either for credit recovery or the chance to get ahead.”
In past years, all summer school programs were held at Osborne High School. This summer, the 108,000-student school district is offering programs at Pope, North Cobb, Lassiter and Walton high schools.
Davis said students can take courses at any of the four schools. She added while students can’t necessarily take summer school to graduate early, they can take core classes in order to enroll in more elective courses during the school year.
The program heads at each school are assistant principals or teacher leaders from August to May, according to Davis.
There are 444 high school students enrolled in Cobb’s traditional summer school programs, according to Davis. She said ninth and 10th grade math is a popular choice, though Cobb also offers health, personal fitness and Spanish.
“The kids who have fallen behind are often finding themselves in summer math,” Davis said. “Math has been hard for kids forever.”
Davis said the notion of summer school is usually to identify students who are failing during the academic year and have them retake classes over the summer. The more modern interpretation is for some students to relearn skills, while others work on getting ahead.
“We’re continuously seeking more time and opportunities for kids to be successful between August and May so the role of summer school can be more extensive,” Davis said.
Cobb also has an online program called Cobb Virtual Academy.
“We currently have 995 students enrolled in Cobb Virtual in order to either repeat a course or get ahead with some coursework,” Davis said. “The fee for Cobb Virtual is $275 per half-credit course. The dates for Cobb Virtual courses vary depending on the date a student registers.”
The $275 cost per half-credit course also applies to traditional summer school students.
Summer school graduations will be July 10 at Lassiter High School and Aug. 19 at Hillgrove High School.
Marietta High School
Ron Brookins is an associate principal at Marietta High School and has led its summer school program for the last 13 years.
“I think we’ve been successful in our summer school, simply because students have a singular focus when they’re here,” he said. “Generally, students know exactly what they need to be promoted to the next grade or what they need to do to get back on track for graduation.”
There are 180 students in the Marietta City Schools summer school program, according to Brookins. The program runs through June 26 and has a morning session from 8 a.m. to 12:20 and an afternoon session from 1 to 5:20 p.m. Cost is $220 per student for one session or $440 for both sessions.
“Basically, we offer our ninth and 10th grade classes, which is algebra and geometry and ninth and 10th grade literature,” Brookins said. “We also offer chemistry and environmental science.”
Brookins said most of the classes offered are at the ninth and 10th grade levels because the focus is on helping students who have fallen behind. As in Cobb, math is especially tough for a lot of students.
“The graduation rules in math have very little wiggle room,” Brookins said. “You have to have four years of math. You can’t really stack math classes on top of each other. If you struggle as a freshman, you’ll struggle as a sophomore and a junior.”
Students attending summer school can earn up to one full course credit during the program. Only core classes are offered.
Marietta City Schools also accept online courses through Georgia Virtual School, a statewide program run by the Georgia Department of Education. He said online summer school has become more popular in recent years.
“Georgia Virtual School is for students looking to get ahead,” Brookins said. “They offer fourth-year English, possibly fourth-year science. Through that program, students can get ahead and possibly graduate in three years. I’d say GVS is the best opportunity to graduate early.”