This route to extra credits gets the okay from students.
When Margot took Grade 9 math in summer school to help raise her mark in a subject she found difficult, she found the experience to be so positive she took an entirely new math course the following summer.
“Summer school definitely helped me to concentrate on a subject that was hard for me,” says Margot. “Because I was just taking the one course, it was easier to focus. Also, because it was at a different high school than I normally go to, and I didn’t know anyone else, there wasn’t as much socializing, so I could concentrate on my work”. And the best part: “It was just for the month of July, so I still had half of the summer left to do what I wanted. It didn’t put too much of a dent in my plans!”
A student who is talented in the arts, Margot took the second summer school math course so that she could take all arts courses the following semester.
Students take courses in the summer for a variety of reasons. If they’ve failed or just barely passed a course, it can help them upgrade their marks and get the credits they require. “Sometimes students take a summer course to get caught up – it’s a great opportunity to get another credit that might allow them more leeway with their timetable the following year,” says Martin Twiss, Superintendent of Education, Student Achievement for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPRDSB).
Some students take courses that they don’t have time for during the regular term. And some might be one or two credits short to graduate and want to complete them in order to start post-secondary studies in the fall or winter sessions. “A new credit usually takes three weeks and an upgrade generally takes two weeks,” says Jane Egan, Student Success Consultant with the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic School Board (PVNCCDSB). “Sometimes there aren’t exams – it depends on the course,” she says.
“Sometimes students just want something to do in the summer and because they enjoy school, they decide to pick up an extra credit in a subject they’re interested in,” says Twiss.
A free service
Summer school is offered free of charge by both the public and Catholic school boards at the elemen tary and secondary levels. Typical subjects offered in summer school include math, English and science.
“Grades 5 to 8 are based on a tutorial program, focusing on literacy or numeracy for the full month of July,” says Egan. “For Grades 9 to 12, we offer two week blocks of upgrading. The lower grades attend just in the mornings, whereas Grades 7 to 12 run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.” The Catholic board also offers a co-op credit, which combines in-class work with a job placement that’s focused in the student’s career area. This is a great option for students who don’t have a summer job lined up.
The public school board’s summer school usually begins the second week of July and runs for three weeks, with full days of classes, from about 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., according to Twiss.
Great chance of success
Hayden took Grade 11 geometry in summer school after he completed Grade 10 because he wanted to get ahead in math and have more time for other subjects the following year.
“Summer school was a positive experience for me,” he says. “It was a more informal atmosphere than regular school. The teacher gave us the books and answered any questions we had. We were able to help each other and work in the library if we needed to.” He got 90 per cent in the course.
“Students generally do better in a subject taken at summer school, perhaps because they’re going over the material again and it’s a fresh teacher, or perhaps it’s presented in a different way,” says Twiss. “It’s a more relaxed setting over a shorter period of time, not spread out with all the other courses as in the regular academic year.”
Egan agrees.“The majority are successful in summer school because it is such a focused, intensive way of learning.”
Summer school is generally offered in one school per region. In some cases, transportation is provided for students coming from out of town.
To determine if summer school is right for your child, talk to your child’s teacher or guidance counsellor or contact your local school board: KPRDSB, 705-742-9773, www.kprschools.ca, or PVNCCDSB at (705) 748-4861, www.pvnccdsb.on.ca.