• Joanne Jacobs

Louisiana eyes requiring summer school for struggling readers

Louisiana students not reading at grade level in K-4 would be required to attend summer school -- or repeat a grade -- under a proposal by state Superintendent Cade Brumley.


Less than half of K-4 students are reading at the expected level, Brumley said. He proposes summer camps that offer music, art, sports and 30 hours of small-group tutoring with teachers "trained in the science of reading.” Those who don't participate would have to repeat a grade.


An advisory council of superintendents questioned the value of forcing students to repeat grades, and said teachers should decide which students need summer tutoring.


In California's Central Valley, an intensive summer English class is getting good reviews, reports Zaidee Stavely for EdSource. The program was designed for elementary and middle school students who haven't fully mastered English. It also served to train teachers in how to deepen students' knowledge of English, said Karin Linn-Nieves, who designed the course.

In one activity called “running dictation,” students break up into teams. One student runs across the room, reads the first sentence in a paragraph, tries to remember it, and runs back to the team to tell them what the sentence is. If they can’t remember, they have to run back to read it again. Another student writes the sentence down, and two others help with spelling and remembering what the other student said.
“So the kids have read and re-read, they’ve written, they’ve listened, they’re using all the domains, but they think it’s a game,” said Linn-Nieves. “We’re practicing literacy on steroids.”
When they are done writing down the whole paragraph, they analyze the text, picking out different kinds of words, like which are verbs, prepositional phrases, pronouns, or text connectives — words that join together other words, such as and, also, furthermore or besides. These little words are often the ones that most trip up students for whom English is a second language, Linn-Nieves said, because they often don’t get explicit instruction and practice with them.

English language learners did especially poorly when classes went remote.

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