The children counted down from three before the missile took off over Fort Worth Elementary School.
The event was part of the district’s “summer launch,” which education officials hope will keep the children busy and learning before the next school year.
Approximately 15,000 children are attending the Fort Worth ISD Summer School this year – nearly three times the number enrolled in 2019. The expanded effort comes as districts across the country grappling with how to catch up with students after nearly two years of learning affected by COVID-19.
In the past, summer school may only be considered for a smaller group of students who were lagging behind in class. But some educators in Texas are trying to rename it to serve a wider group of children with acceleration. For many districts, the summer programs have already started and will run on different schedules until July.
“This year is summer school for everyone,” said Kent Scribner, Fort Worth ISD superintendent, in a video showcasing the program.
New standardized test data shows that nearly 4 out of 10 Texas public school students failed their state math exams this year. The STAAR scores were painful across the board: 37% of students failed math exams and 33% failed reading tests – up 16% and 4%, respectively, from 2019 results.
Education officials viewed summer school as a way to give children the vital extra time in front of a teacher and to focus on literacy and math.
Because many teachers are exhausted from a particularly difficult year, some districts offer incentives to encourage teachers to attend the summer program. For example, FWISD pays a $ 1,000 scholarship on top of standard compensation.
Dallas ISD also runs several programs that advertise their offers as a “summer breeze”, including acceleration courses to support the so-called “COVID slide” and those for enrichment, such as art camps. About 5,000 students are enrolled in the high school credit recovery program, DISD academic director Shannon Trejo said, and about 8,000 students in preschool through eighth grade also attended summer classes.
Dozens of DISD schools will also start the school year earlier than normal, reducing the amount of time children spend outside of the classroom.
DISD executives surveyed school communities about the option of adding five weeks of classes over the coming year. About a fifth of the district’s elementary and middle schools – 41 – will attend, with the school year starting on August 9th. Another handful of schools start even earlier.
Despite the condensed summer, Dallas executives felt it was important to provide learning opportunities during the break, including easy acclimatization of some children after months of virtual school to learn in person.
The DMN Education Lab deepens reporting and discussion on pressing educational issues that are critical to the future of North Texas.
The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control over the Education Lab’s journalism.