Extended Year Program Planned for 18 Targeted Title I Schools

February 27, 2002
Plans are under way now to enhance the academic instruction of students attending kindergarten through Grade 3 at the 18 federally funded Title I schools beginning this summer. The initiative would include a four-week summer program of four hours of enriched instruction and accelerated academics each day for more than 4,500 students.

The targeted schools have the highest level of poverty in Montgomery County, with participation rates of 50 percent or greater in the Free and Reduced-Price Meals System (FARMS). The new initiative is in direct response to requests by the Board of Education, the County Executive, and the County Council to explore ways in which students who are in need of intense academic support can receive additional assistance above and beyond the normal schedule of the school year.

Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, described the initiative in an update to the Board of Education yesterday [Tuesday, February 26] as “an important and exciting effort to enhance the academic instruction of students attending the 18 federally funded Title I schools,” especially those who are at risk academically because of poverty and the need for English language instruction.

The effort to help new students entering kindergarten is particularly important given the release yesterday of a new state report calling attention to the lack of readiness of many Maryland children who enter kindergarten without the necessary pre-reading and literacy skills. Montgomery County has found similar results in the assessment of new kindergarten students who, nonetheless, make significant gains in reading skills as a result of reforms made in the county’s kindergarten program, including a new curriculum, focused teacher training, and formative assessments during the school year.

The new Title I initiative now being developed would include every new kindergarten student and all students entering Grade 1 through Grade 3 in the participating schools. The current plan involves a four-week summer program beginning in July and extending into August (with four hours of instruction each day). Transportation will be provided, as well as breakfast and lunch services consistent with the existing summer nutrition program.

The 18 identified elementary schools are: Broad Acres, New Hampshire Estates, Oak View, Harmony Hills, Gaithersburg, Rolling Terrace, Highland, Summit Hall, Viers Mill, Pine Crest, Kemp Mill, Weller Road, Highland View, East Silver Spring, Wheaton Woods, Rosemont, Montgomery Knolls, and Burnt Mills.

Entitled “Extended Learning Opportunities,” the initiative is being planned around four key objectives: (1) accelerating learning by previewing upcoming grade-level concepts and skills, (2) strengthening basic skills that are the preconditions for later learning, (3) alleviating achievement loss experienced by students over the typical summer break, and (4) providing continued English language instruction for second language learners.

Other initiatives also are being planned to offer more enrichment and acceleration of academic instruction that will go well beyond the typical summer school programs for elementary and middle school students. Detailed information about these efforts and the Title I initiative will be provided in an update on summer school programs scheduled for the Board of Education meeting on March 12.

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