The Kansas City School District is trying to raise student performance between school years and one particular program is aimed at younger students.
The district is putting a new focus on sixth- and seventh-graders. They see the summer months as an important time to produce high achievers.
"I'm going to go next year to seventh grade and it gets me refreshed so I can learn some skills for seventh grade," said student Jean-Paul Chaurand.
"I think it's better than staying at home, because if you're staying at home you're not learning anything," said student Jacqueline Abnos.
The two are in the Sixth Grade Summer Bridge Academy offered at Kansas City Public Schools. It prepares incoming seventh-graders for more rigorous middle school courses and challenges them to take honor classes.
"Some of them, they said, 'Oh that's a lot of work' but I said, ‘yes it's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun work' and we're showing them how going deeper with the curriculum can be fun and exciting and can be interesting," said Anna Blancarte, the curriculum director.
The program lasts just 20 days, but with three hours of classroom learning plus two hours of home study, that's 100 more hours of education. The time is paying off. Kids who go through the program score higher on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests and teachers report they are more confident, critical thinkers.
"The goal is to push toward accreditation and we continue to march toward that. And by having these leaders in these classrooms and by having them be an example - something that we can hold up to and others can strive to - that can lead to nothing but good things," said teacher Christopher Jennens.
Nineteen students are currently in the program, but it continues to grow as it's only in its third year. Administrators see how it's paying off and they hope more and more kids and parents see the benefits too.
The program focuses on current events by putting deeper meaning to the stories students may read and see on the news. It also addresses the significance of technology in the world today.
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