Since July 3rd I have been Vice Principal at a tri-district Summer School that provides completion and credit core courses for around 1000 students in grades 9 through 12. The school is located on two different campuses and I have been the lone administrator at the smaller campus of about 200 students.
For some students, this school offers an opportunity to gain credit for a course in 4 weeks that would normally take 5 months in a regular school year to complete. For other students we offer 2 week completion courses for those that, for one reason or another, did not successfully complete the course at school, or who want to upgrade their mark. Classes are 4.5 hours a day. The school is fully funded by the BC Ministry of Education and is provided free of charge to any student enrolled.
As you can image, this process is challenging from a teacher or administrators stand point. Students come to the school with widely varying aptitudes, some with learning disabilities and some are international students with English as a Second Language designation; some are adult students living on their own and unfortunately, some are young people who come here from very difficult home situations.
Clearly this is not the optimum educational setting for a student who struggles given that they are expect to complete the course in such a compact, and rigorous time frame. I have taught summer school in the past as well, and each time struggle with the issue of providing 4 credits in a two or four week time frame. Teachers strive to provide instruction and assess achievement based on the learning outcomes of the regular 5 month course, but is it possible? In the end we must be able to be satisfied that the student is ready for the next level and that they have satisfied the prescribed learning outcomes of the course.
At the end of this exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but highly rewarding process, we can say that we have given many kids an opportunity to be successful and have allowed them to move on towards graduation. I have had many students tell me they have learned more in this short time in a course than they did over an entire semester at school. That makes it all worthwhile for us, but what does it say about the regular system?