Pasco Schools Use New Summer Programs to Help More Students


DADE CITY – Dalton Brown could have slept at home.

But he knew he had been “too lazy, too tired all the time” during the school year. His grades suffered.

Thus, Monday morning, the 14-year-old found himself in front of a computer at Pasco college, preparing for history, mathematics and science lessons.

“I want to go to high school,” Dalton said, explaining his decision to go to summer school.

The Pasco County School District has expanded its summer school offering this year in an effort to reach more struggling students. Initiatives included a new curriculum, addition of courses and credit recovery at the secondary level, and increased focus on primary classes.

This is the first overhaul of the district’s summer school in five years.

More than 2,000 students have registered, although attendance was low on the first day, leaving school administrators to call families later in the day to remind them to send their children. The neighborhood provides transportation and meals.

At the middle and high school levels, the district has adopted new online materials that meet new state standards and aim to make work more difficult than in previous programs.

“The problem with the previous model was that the kids recovered so easily that they didn’t take their initial classes seriously,” said Rayann Mitchell, program manager. “Because the rigor is increased, let’s hope that the message is there. We want to make them want to learn in the initial course rather than recover.”

Teachers and students said they liked the new system.

“It’s personalized. Everyone works according to the prescription they need to be successful,” said Susan McHugh, a Pasco Middle teacher, as she helped the seventh graders who raised their hands. “There is less downtime for them. The computer takes them where they need to go. “

McHugh said she was still needed and was able to help more students than when she had to develop and lead the whole lesson.

Ashley Adams, a rising seventh grader, 13, worked on her civics education, which she failed to complete during the year. She said she preferred the virtual class, with McHugh available for help.

“You can work at your own pace, and you can work from home if you want to,” said Ashley, who aimed to complete the course earlier.

Pasco Middle Assistant Principal Jeff Wolff noted that the blended classroom-virtual program allows students to watch teachers’ lessons on videotape, take notes online, and even have the computer read text. and translate it, if necessary.

With some students, this latest feature helps them keep up with content even if they can’t read well, Wolff said, so they don’t fall behind further.

In elementary schools, third-graders who did not pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test reading began the district’s annual state-mandated reading camp aimed at improving their skills. This year the district has shifted its focus from selecting appropriate texts to using reading as a basis for research and writing, using the theme of marine life.

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“I think it’s going to be engaging for them,” said Jo Ann Fiscus, a teacher at Pasco Elementary School, watching the children test to determine their reading level.

She said both skills – picking good books and using them correctly – are important for students.

Christopher Manriquez, 9, a booming third-year student, was excited about the opportunities. He said he was happy to be in school and to have books to take home.

He said he enjoyed “seeing other children, relearning, knowing more and reading more.”

The level of interest was high in all classes.

Rising first graders told teacher Lori Meredith they thought it would be “awesome” to write their own books on endangered animals, based on what they read in class summer. Meanwhile, rising sophomores eagerly rallied around teacher Megan Huffman to practice math skills seen as key to success in third grade.

Huffman wrote “6 + 8” on a whiteboard and asked the children, “Is that 10? She then asked them to explain their answers, using playing cards to help with the calculations.

One boy said he found the answer to 14 by counting to two. Another said he looked at the six of diamonds and then saw the eight of hearts split into two sets of fours.

He knew that the six diamonds and the four hearts were equal to 10, and adding the extra 4 came easily.

Attacking the facts in a fun way to make them more interesting, said Deputy Director Nena Green. “We want the kids to get involved and want to be here.”

With six weeks of classes, that’s important. Elementary programs last half days until July 24. One-day secondary courses are held in 10-day segments, with the first session scheduled to end on July 1.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be contacted at [email protected]

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