Crew Announces Summer School Plan for N.Y.C.
Summertime will spell school-time for some of New York City's lowest-performing students, Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew told the school board last week.
Mr. Crew announced a plan that could require about 48,000 students in 3rd, 6th, and 8th grades with low test scores to complete a six-week remedial course beginning in July--or repeat the grade. He said that this month he would begin sending warning letters to the parents of low-scoring students.
Bill Casey, who oversees the district's summer school, said officials hoped the letters would spur some students into shaping up before the end of the school year.
In announcing the program, Mr. Crew said he was "drawing a line in the sand" against the "low-performing kids in low-performing schools in low-performing districts," according to press reports.
The move, elements of which require approval by the school board, adds the 1.1-million student system to at least two dozen other big-city districts that require summer school for some students. Chicago has made headlines by requiring thousands of low-performing students to attend summer school. ("The Heat Is On as Big Districts Expand Summer School," July 8, 1998.)
$70 Million Earmarked
The trend has been fueled by requirements that students meet higher academic standards and the growing momentum nationwide to end social promotion, the practice of passing students to the next grade even if they do not show mastery of the skills expected there. Mr. Crew has said he wants to end social promotion by 2000.
Michael D. Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, said mandatory summer school is an obvious strategy. "Kids most at risk are the ones most likely to slip academically during the summer," he said.
The Washington-based council represents 53 of the nation's large urban districts, 22 of which have mandatory summer school.
Many of the details of Chancellor Crew's plan remain to be worked out. But officials said summer school would be required of students not reaching the 20th percentile on the nationally normed, districtwide tests in reading and mathematics.
The school board has already earmarked $70 million for summer programs, about the same as last year, but students required to attend summer school would be given priority. Summer programs have been growing in popularity in New York and nationwide. About 200,000 of the city's students enrolled voluntarily in summer school last year.
Vol. 18, Issue 25, Page 3