Glenbard District 87 sees record highs in summer school enrollment
It's often a tough sell getting students to spend summer in school.
Even more so when they don't earn credit toward graduation.
But in Glenbard High School District 87, educators saw record-high enrollment this summer -- up more than 300 students compared to 2014 -- in such courses.
"I was surprised it was as high as it was," Jeff Feucht, assistant superintendent for educational services, said of the latest tallies. "There is a misconception that students only go to summer school if they fail a course and need to make it up."
Overall, 834 students took so-called "bridge" courses, compared with 456 students in 2013. New partnerships with middle schools have helped the district boost those summer school ranks, officials say.
For the first time, rising seventh- and eighth-graders in Carol Stream Elementary District 93 took classes this past summer. And officials are looking to draw more from other districts that feed students into Glenbard's four high schools.
"If we start that earlier, we think we'll see big dividends when they get to high school," said Michele Hawbaker, one of the district's four summer school principals.
The district works with middle school teachers to design a curriculum tailor-made to their needs, Feucht said.
District 93 students were bused to Glenbard North in Carol Stream and taught by the high school's teachers. Queen Bee Elementary District 16 students, by contrast, were co-taught by high school and middle school teachers.
But no matter the structure, the courses are meant to help students gain confidence with concepts they'll revisit during the regular school year in reading, writing and math, said Hawbaker, Glenbard North's math department chair.
"It's more pre-teaching than it is remediation," she said.
Feucht and Hawbaker are encouraged by results from the district's own students who take bridge classes, each lasting nine days.
Officials began tracking their "grades in progress" six weeks into this semester. The bridge students posted above-average grades in most cases compared with the rest of the student body, the data showed, Feucht said.
"They're getting comfortable," Hawbaker said. "They know what's coming this school year, and it's really proving beneficial."
As for the longer summer school courses that do count toward graduation credit, enrollment rose 4.5 percent to 1,748 students. Through online registration, the district also began tracking why students were signing up.
The reasons were almost evenly split. Just more than half were students looking for "credit recovery" in courses they previously failed, Feucht said.
The rest were students trying to accelerate through their requirements and make room in their schedule for electives or advanced placement classes, he said.
Looking ahead, Feucht said the district will continue to adjust its offerings. Some bridge classes help incoming freshman make the leap from middle-school to high-school math. Others help students get a leg up in AP art classes.
"It's always been good prep curriculum, but we want to do a better job of also making it engaging and fun, especially for those bridge courses," he said.