FLORHAM PARK, NJ- Florham Park’s Summer Enrichment Program for students entering third, fourth and fifth grades has showed off some very positive results over the course of its four seasons.
The brain child of Brooklake School’s Principal, Dr. Steve Caponegro, the Summer Enrichment Program was an initiative created to specifically target the students that need that extra bit of instruction and attention to ease their transition to the next grade level. The program focuses on the core subjects of language arts and mathematics and has three teachers, one for each grade level, in each subject.
The students were recommended for this enrichment program based on their i-Ready scores and upon the recommendation of the student’s prior teacher. Built for Common Core, the i-Ready is a kindergarten through 12th grade diagnostic that pinpoints a student’s skill level in language arts and math across their scholastic career and indicates if a child is on track to achieve their yearly targets. The program granted students instructional support in the completion of grade level assignments and individual attention to ensure each child is up to speed for the new scholastic year.
The program ran from 9am to 11am from Monday through Thursday and lasted for four weeks over the summer. Each section, whether language arts or math, took the first hour to go over necessary skills such as reading comprehension or order of operations. The skills covered by the language arts side included summarizing, character analysis and plot themes and influences. Meanwhile, the math group covered skills including fractions, geometry, measurements and algebraic thinking.
Each hour long instructional session was then followed up by an hour of individualized help time. The students were able to work closely with their instructors who guided their way through summer assignments and additional skill practice for the upcoming year.
At Florham Park’s Board of Education, presenters Allison Conroy and Melissa Dillon noted that having the individualized grade level classes allowed the teachers a chance to specifically tailor each day’s activities to the specific needs of the students in that grade level. It also opened the doors for more one on one individual instruction by the teachers to each student, specifically targeting the areas that each student needed to improve.
Conroy and Dillon also noted that “While the structural support was provided to enrich student’s skills, the small group setting and the informal format of the day provided students with a camp-like feel. The students responded very positively to this.”
This aspect is monumentally important for a summer program. According to Oxford Learning, summer learning loss averages two and a half months of learning loss in math and two months in reading skills over the course of the summer. This leaves teachers spending the first six weeks in the fall reteaching old material to get their kids back up to speed.
By grade six, students experiencing learning loss are averaging two years below their peers across the board. Learning loss over the summer can be prevented by two to three hours of weekly learning over the course of the summer.
The true test of a summer program’s effectiveness in this category is how well attended it is. Many programs have a tough time keeping the kids involved over the course of the summer months and can dull its impact on the students.
“With many summer programs, the retention rate after the first few days to a week considerably reduces,” Caponegro went on to say. “Our retention rate remained about 95% of the students that originally enrolled.”
This sets Florham Park’s program ahead of its peers as it not only gives the students that extra leg up over the summer months, but also makes the process enjoyable and keeps the students coming back for more. With a successful four summers, it looks to be an area that Florham Park will continue to improve and innovate with in the coming years.