“But it’s also one that we’re addressing right away to get smaller class sizes for our teachers so that we can get them the best instruction we can over the 27 days.”
Better yet, Thompson noted: The students crowding into Clark and three other District sites on Wednesday for the reading program were not just third-graders, but students from kindergarten through third grade.
“And that’s the point,” Thompson said. “Yes, this year there is a sense of urgency for our current third-graders because of the law, the third-grade reading guarantee,
but more importantly, we have an opportunity to close that summer learning gap for all grades, and that will make a difference for future third-graders.”
This was the first time in her tenure that the District has been able to start the reading program the week after school let out, Thompson said. That likely accounted for what she said was higher attendance, though not all the numbers were in yet.
“And these are the right students to be here,” she said. “Every student here has been on a reading intervention monitoring plan from the fall, and every student here will be on a reading intervention plan throughout the 27 days that they’re with us.”
The effect of the reading academy will be known in short order, Thompson said.
Not only is there existing reading assessment data from this spring, but Ohio Achievement Test results are due this month and the students in the program will be tested as the program concludes July 11.
“For those of our (third-grade) students who meet the right score, they’ll be passed to fourth grade," Thompson said. "We’ll also know exactly where the rest stand.
The academy's leaders are asking summer school teachers to quickly get to know students who are from all over the District. "This is not a time for the faint-hearted or weak-hearted teacher, and we’ve got some very good ones here,” Thompson said.
Clark Summer School Principal Erin Murphy, who is assistant principal at East Tech High School during the school year, said the first two days of the Reading Academy at Clark energized the staff and students.
“I think we’re going to leap forward because of this," she said. “This is going to make a big difference."
In Room 104, third-grade teacher Cheryl Panchur (see photo, right) first helped 36 students get situated, get their pencils sharpened and get back from the bathroom. She then nimbly launched into a writing exercise to try to effect that very difference.
Students were asked to “think, then write,” on a topic concerning someone in their family who is special.
Thompson and Academic Superintendent Luther Johnson dropped in on Panchur’s class to get a sense of how it was going. Thompson helped one boy tie his shoe and another one to find his right classroom; she also sharpened a few pencils.
Thompson said her first order of business that morning was to reallocate teachers from less crowded schools or hire more so Panchur would have a class size in the low 20s.
“It’s our job to get them the curriculum, get them a manageable class size and let them go to work,” she said. “Every day, every minute, counts.”