Metro Atlanta districts enhance summer school, hope for more students

Second grade teacher Temica Cook interacts with her students during the Atlanta Public Schools' Summer Academic Recovery Academy at Cascade Elementary School June 2, 2021. In 2022, most metro Atlanta districts will once again offer expanded summer programs in response to pandemic learning challenges. (Alyssa Pointer / AJC file photo)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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Second grade teacher Temica Cook interacts with her students during the Atlanta Public Schools' Summer Academic Recovery Academy at Cascade Elementary School June 2, 2021. In 2022, most metro Atlanta districts will once again offer expanded summer programs in response to pandemic learning challenges. (Alyssa Pointer / AJC file photo)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Metro Atlanta school districts continue to emphasize summer as a time for students to catch up where they may have fallen behind, especially as many have struggled over more than two years of school in the pandemic.

Increasingly, districts are also treating the summer as an enrichment opportunity and a chance for some to get a preview of the next school year.

In 2021, many districts bolstered summer school recruiting efforts and expanded their programs in response to the highly disrupted 2020-2021 school year.

While schools were open more regularly this school year, most of those summer programs will be offered again or have expanded.

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Atlanta Public Schools is in year two of a three-year effort to increase summer enrollment to address “both unfinished learning and learning loss experienced by our students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Katika Lovett, assistant superintendent of student services. About 11,000 students participated last year, a 33% increase from 2020.

In Gwinnett County, Georgia’s largest school district, summer enrollment tripled last year to about 25,000. District leaders want that number to grow again.

Along with the traditional remediation, the district focused on previewing lessons so students could get a bit of a head start on the regular school year.

“Teachers overwhelmingly, as well as parents and students, said, ‘Do not stop doing that. We absolutely love it,’” said Clay Hunter, associate superintendent of curriculum and instructional support.

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Fulton County Schools has set an expectation that students in certain grades who fail critical Georgia Milestones assessments will participate in summer school. Parents can sign a waiver not to send their child, but the student will have to catch up academically at some point.

“So, I would encourage our families to please consider adjusting their summer schedules,” Superintendent Mike Looney said at a February school board meeting. “The longer we wait to get them caught back up, the more difficult it’s going to be.”

Here’s a look at summer school across metro Atlanta.

Atlanta Public Schools

All Atlanta students were able to register for summer programs, but some students received invitations and were “strongly encouraged to attend” the Academic Recovery Academy, according to a presentation at the March school board meeting. Counselors audited high school students’ transcripts to identify students who could recover credits in summer school.

The district also hosts a virtual Recharge program and several Power Up opportunities. Power Up ranges from an early introduction to pre-K or kindergarten to a boot camp for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes.

Dates: Academic Recovery, June 1-30; Power Up programs are all held in June, with pre-K and kindergarten programs extending to July.

Registration: Academic Recovery and some other programs are closed; Power Up’s AP and IB boot camp, gifted student enrichment and kindergarten camp are accepting registrations.

Clayton County Public Schools

Clayton’s SummerT.I.M.E. (Thrive, Inspire, Motivate and Engage) program emphasizes STEM and applies real-world context to core subject areas, according to the district website. Students can participate in advancement courses, literacy and math support or STEM camps.

Dates: STEM Camps, June 21-23 and June 27-30; Summer Enrichment Academy, June 1, 2, 6-9, 13 and 14; Advanced Learning for All, July 18-22.

Registration: Closed.

Cobb County School District

Cobb will offer an expanded summer program for a second year. The district invited more than 4,000 elementary and middle school students to participate in the Summer Learning Quest to build on the past school year while preparing for the next grade. The district also hosts a Summer Enrichment Academy and provides access to online material through Summer Link. The district has not yet posted registration for information for enrichment programs on its website.

High school students who have failed a class may retake it over the summer. High schoolers who want to take a new class may enroll in Cobb Virtual Academy.

Dates: High school credit recovery, June 14-30.

Registration: High school programs, May 3-24.

DeKalb County School District

DeKalb’s Mosaic of Summer Learning includes 19 different programs, some held multiple times over the summer. The programs include Advanced Placement course preparation, aviation camp and extra help for English learners. High school students may retake a failed class in the FLEX Restore program. Seniors may take a class they need to graduate in FLEX Ahead.

Dates: FLEX Restore, June 1-17; FLEX Ahead, June 1-24. Elementary and middle school enrichment programs are held throughout June and July, with some extending into August.

Registration: Check program guide for specific dates.

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Fulton County Schools

Fulton will offer remediation and acceleration for middle and high school students in-person and online. The elementary program is in-person only and offers “targeted support in reading and mathematics,” the district website states. There is also a summer program for special needs students.

Date: In-person June 8 to July 8, virtual June 8 to July 13.

Registration: Open through May 26.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Gwinnett will pay for high school students to retake two classes they have failed, to “address COVID-related learning gaps and to provide students with an additional opportunity to earn credit for courses failed this year,” the district website states. Students taking a new class over the summer must pay $275 per class. There are in-person and virtual options.

The district’s Summer Learning, Support, Enrichment and Acceleration Program will provide students entering kindergarten through eighth grade an early look at the next grade level or support to get to the next grade. The program is in-person. Students may register by invitation.

Date: Elementary and middle school, June 13 to July 1; high school, June 13 to July 7.

Registration: High school programs open through May 27.

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