Nearly 500 students have registered – and hundreds more are expected to register before the June 8 deadline – for the Beaufort County School District’s virtual summer school program, which lets students go to class during the summer without actually entering a school.
This will be the sixth year for the seven-week program, which helps rising kindergarten through eighth-grade students maintain or accelerate their academic skills over summer vacation.
Chrissy Robinson, the district’s Director of Educational Technology, said that reading and math results from Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests indicate that students who participate in Virtual Summer School program retain more information than those who don’t take part.
Robinson said the summer program can adapt to what individual students need because the computer programs are customized.
“There’s really something here for everyone,” she said. “If you’re behind at the end of the school year, you can catch up during the summer. And if you’re an advanced student, you can get a head-start on courses that you’ll be taking next school year.”
The Beaufort County Board of Education has pushed to make the popular summer online program available to more students because research suggests that summer achievement loss is greatest among students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The school district estimates that about half of this summer’s participants are from low-income families.
In addition to students who participate from their homes, students also participate through partnerships between the district and the Boys & Girls Club of the Lowcountry, the YMCA of Beaufort, Thumbs Up and the Neighborhood Outreach Connection. Those organizations make Virtual Summer School a part of their schedules, with students working on math and English Language Arts.
The district placed refurbished desktop computers at Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCA of Beaufort. The machines were retired from district schools and refurbished.
Throughout the eight-week program, virtual summer school teachers monitor how students are doing and keep parents up to date on their progress. The district employs four teachers for the Virtual Summer School Program.
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