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Summer programs take aim at closing pandemic achievement gap for Leon County Schools students

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 19:54:58-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools is tackling learning loss caused by COVID-19.

LCS is revamping its summer school programs to address the achievement gap. Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services Billy Epting says more than 4,000 students tested below grade level, earning an invitation to summer school. He expects 2,000- 3,000 students to take up the opportunity.

"We have a unique opportunity with America Rescue dollars to specifically target students below grade level," said Epting.

LCS has about $40 million to go towards summer school. For the last decade or so, LCS has offered summer school primarily to third graders who didn't hit their FSA testing target. However, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a greater need for more help in every grade level.

"We're going to be able to offer it at just about every school in the district and specifically targeted to those students at that school that need that extra push. It'll look different at each school based on who's able to come," he said.

While you would expect pre-teens to be against summer school, that's not the case at Griffin Middle. The students are excited about a summer of learning of fun. Rising eighth grader Jordan Tate says he's excited about the summer program. What he's looking forward to the most:

"Ms. Agbasoga. The best class on campus. Just to let y'all know," he happily said.

Allison Agbasoga teaches what Tates has dubbed the best class on campus, seventh grade Language Arts. She also helped put together Griffin's summer camp: "Beyond the Bell".

"I think it really means a lot. Especially for our kiddos who are constantly trying to better themselves every single day. If they're provided the correct resources, they're going to be better. What we can do as teachers is try to navigate that path for them. It's super important for when they get back to the school year, they're already above or at grade level," she said.

Epting says he expects students in the county to take advantage, because it's not just the learning that's taken a hit, but socialization as well.

"If you're a first grader sitting at home with an older grandparent, your socialization is not the same. we were struggling with a lot of our second graders with behaviors usually sorted out in kindergarten. how to just do school. get along with your desk mate or on the play ground. Those things they typically learn to do in kindergarten," said Epting.

Beyond the Bell at Griffin is taking that into mind, by stripping the traditional settings and giving the kids more chances to just be kids.

It'll run two weeks on and two weeks off throughout the summer.

"We're going to be doing giveaways, out of the box lessons, no bake cooking class, language arts is going to be reading in the grass. We're trying to make it super fun and like a camp rather than just the beyond the bell program," said Agbasoga.

Griffin and other schools in the county are still accepting students for summer school.