Summer school program praised

Attendance nearly doubles under Newton program.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:43 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

A preliminary report issued Monday on the Columbia School District’s controversial summer school program said the program was nothing but a success for the district this summer.

Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, gave a report at the Columbia Board of Education’s Monday night meeting on the district’s 2004 summer school program, part of which was run by Newton Learning, a private company.

Newton’s Summer Adventure program offered gift certificate incentives for good attendance, and it appears those incentives might have paid off. The report said summer school enrollment nearly doubled this year, from 3,384 students in 2003 to 6,345 in 2004.

Meanwhile, the average daily attendance for summer classes this year went up to 88 percent as compared to 78 percent last year.

“We might be able to conclude this summer program did appeal to students who appeared to be at risk,” Cozette said.

Not only did enrollment increase under the Newton summer program, but it also might have improved learning. Students participating in the program were given the same test at the beginning and end of the summer. All students’ scores improved.

Newton is compiling teacher feedback on the program, but parent feedback has been gathered and is mostly positive. About 75 percent of the more than 3,000 parents surveyed about the program agreed that the incentives “made the program enjoyable” for their kids. They received the survey only if their children completed the entire Newton program.

Cozette said some teachers complained about the organization of the program’s schedule, which included core subjects in the morning and electives in afternoon.

“(The schedule’s organization) was not highly rated,” Cozette said. “This is a change we would make.”

The district will continue monitoring the effects of the Newton program by testing students and comparing those who participated in the summer adventure program with those who didn’t. The results are expected to be reported in November.

The board will recommend plans for the district’s summer 2005 program in November or December.

Also Monday night, about 30 part-time employees expressed their concern over taking a salary cut because of a budget change that decreased their pro-rated insurance benefits. Board members said that they need more information and that they would propose alternatives at the next meeting in October.

The school board also agreed to give a bid for the renovation of Hickman High School to CM Engineering Inc.

— Missourian reporter Emily Peurrung contributed to this report.

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