Helping Kids With Special Needs Avoid The Summer Slump

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As part of our mission to provide all students with a world-class education attention to summer learning is critical. The National Summer Learning Association cites research that shows students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. In addition, many of our students with special needs make incredible gains during the school year, only to be at risk of an intense loss of learned material over the summer. To address this, KIPP New Jersey uses summer sessions, Extended School Year (ESY), in July as an opportunity to get our students ready for the upcoming school year and keep all of our students on the path to success.

Our sessions include a learning model structured around high quality programs that include individualized instruction, small class sizes and parental involvement. We know that students with special needs thrive in rigorous and targeted learning environments. Our students are grouped by reading level and similar Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals so that they can receive small group instruction throughout the half-day program. They travel together through their day receiving direct instruction from KIPP New Jersey teachers and are supported by interns and tutors. To increase participation, we start identifying students at risk for a more significant summer slide early in the school year and build curriculum around the areas that need the most focus.

And as always, our kids' grit and determination shine through. Scholars make relationships with not only their teachers but also scholars from across the elementary network. By the end of the program, we often hear kids asking why ESY has to end. The targeted and structured learning in each room as well as JOY provides an environment where our scholars truly thrive. Through ESY many scholars return to our elementary schools reading at the same level when leaving in June, thereby beating the summer slump!

- Sammy Segal
SPED Learning Specialist
SPARK Academy Elementary School