Pinellas says kids in the Summer Bridge program are making gains
The third summer of the Pinellas County's Summer Bridge program yielded proficiency gains in math, English language arts and science across all grade levels, school district officials said this week.
The highest gains among elementary students were seen in third grade language arts, where students jumped from 66 percent to 79 percent at or above proficiency, Kindergarten math (68 to 87 percent) and third grade science (43 to 61 percent). The district considers a score of 70 percent or higher as the standard of proficiency at that grade level.
"Summer Bridge has a direct relationship to an increase in STEM because of the hands-on activities," Pam Moore, associate superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services, told School Board members at Tuesday's workshop. "We want learning to be fun regardless if it’s in the summer or not."
The six-week summer program aims to narrow the achievement gap and help students avoid losing knowledge over the vacation months, a phenomenon known as the "summer slide."
Of the more than 14,000 students enrolled, 9,482 students, or 65 percent, attended for 16 or more days this year. These students took tests at the beginning and end of the program to measure their progress. Elementary students make up 80 percent of Summer Bridge students, although the program caters to middle schoolers and high schoolers as well.
A report on the program was presented by Moore and Dan Evans. executive director of Assessment, Accountability, and Research.
While the district enrollment for black students hovers around 20 percent, about 36 percent of students enrolled in Summer Bridge this year were black, outpacing other minorities in the program.
"There's a disproportionate number of African Americans going," Moore said. "That’s a good sign."
The Summer Bridge credit recovery program is designed for high school students who have fallen behind in meeting graduation requirements as well as preparations for the state's Algebra 1 End-of-Course exams. In 2015, nearly 200 students who had previously failed the Algebra 1 EOC received a passing score during the summer, and 181 students earned high school diplomas after completing Summer Bridge.
District officials said the program's costs totaled $3.5 million this year, with most of the money coming from federal Title I funds.