Is Summer School A Crutch in North Clackamas?

Natalia Godoy, Sunny Urben, Ashton Hooper, and Hana Newcomb

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The rising attendance of summer school in the North Clackamas School District has been a consistent issue for years. Whether it be due to the shorter schedule or smaller classes, students have begun to flock to summer school rather than focus on their regular courses. Natalia Godoy, a junior at Milwaukie High School says, “It’s really easy to complete, online courses are usually done in 2 days and others may take longer. The fees for every semester are about $150 and I guess it can be fun at times but it’s not the same as class credit and normal grades. This perspective, along with the decrease of the negative stigma of summer school, has made many students prefer the lighter workload over their typical course work.”

When asked, Jim Corff, a counselor at Rex Putnam High School, says he is aware of the rising attendance in summer school. Corff, however, wasn’t concerned with the increase saying that “I think it’s good that we have it because most of those kids are already behind on credits before they do start summer school.” Corff expressed that, “..a lot of summer school is kids that might have not done well freshman year, and or sophomore year…and they just need that extra summer school help to finish on time.” Before working as a counselor, Corff was a teacher and had some experience teaching summer school himself. Corff had a lot to say about the experience, “ It was more intense. I had to cover a lot of material quickly and every day the students had to be prepared. There was no slacking.” Summer school often struggles with a short period and condensed curriculum, making it hard for students and teachers. “..the biggest issue I think with our summer school is that there’s no way for kids to have not had a class to make it up in summer school. They have to fail a class to go to summer school in our district. Which for kids to transfer in, you’re forcing them to take a credit recovery class their senior year,” Corff said. A credit recovery class focuses on making sure a student is on track to graduate, making sure they have all the necessary credits to graduate on time. Regarding the negative stigma towards summer school Corff says, “ I think, in some sense, students need to be very aware that they made a mistake…I think they should be held accountable. You have consequences for the decisions you make. Most of the time if you fail a class during the regular year it’s because you’ve made some poor decisions.” Summer school is tailor-made for students struggling with regular course work, it provides them with a second chance and extra help to bring up their GPA. It isn’t an experience exclusive to those who can afford it because while most classes cost between 75-100 dollars, students can make a compromise with the school. The schedule requires a commitment, thanks to the shortened curriculum every day is necessary. A student can only miss a single day before being dropped and to pass the course students have to get at least a B.

Kelsey Balint, a teacher at Milwaukie High School says, “ When I worked for the summer school program I saw a lot of freshmen and seniors working to get their last few classes required to graduate.” Balint had a lot to say about the accelerated course, saying how many students struggled because “If you miss more than one day you get dropped from the course and students can’t be late.”

One of Milwaukie High School’s counselors, Mr. Freeland Church was interviewed about this subject and he suspects students that prefer summer school due to the fact that they can get their work done in such a short amount of time, “I worry that they don’t know that those online classes are not as valuable as in class…summer school is basically trying to earn credit when a student has failed and I offer summer school to those who can use it”. He believes summer school does not benefit the student as much as the class and original credit is not earned, it is just a pass or fails and it does not prepare students for future opportunities. When asked how the recovered credit would look on a student’s record, he answered truthfully as “it doesn’t have a grade, it is just credit. It fulfills credit requirement but for colleges that might consider students admission, credit is not as valuable or respected as original grades”

In an interview with the director of summer school, Aelyin Summers, she says “In the summer of 2019 525 kids signed up to go to summer school, 115 never showed up… the same report in 2018 568 signed up for summer school and 87 never showed up,” this means the rate of students attending summer school has been going down by almost 100 kids a year. When asked what student’s behaviors most often lead to summer school, she says, “Attendance patterns are the number one reason why kids end up in summer school, it is not because kids aren’t smart enough to do their work .” 

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