HISD School Support Services Director Efrain Olivo says there are several reasons why students spend part of their summer vacation in the classroom. Kids who fell behind academically have to take classes so they can get promoted to the next grade. Others want to get a jump-start on their high school careers. And there are some kids who attend summer programs as an alternative to day care. Olivo says there are programs available for all grade levels.
"The earliest grades, absolutely, we include even the Pre-K students. The state allocates certain funding for the bilingual education in the Pre-K and K levels, and so we offer that to the students for summer school. It's not a promotion-standards type of summer school. It's more of an enrichment basis."
Olivo says the promotion-based classes are for students who either failed a class, or who didn't make a high-enough score on state-mandated exams. For students who are performing well academically, there are summer camps on many campuses offering all sorts of activities.
"Some schools are having, for example, math camps. Other schools are having band camps. Other schools are having art camps. You know, some schools may have them for two weeks, some schools may have them for four weeks. It's all budget-driven."
For high school students, the district has programs where teens can spend part of their summer vacation earning academic credit. There are classroom-based programs along with classes online.
"We have what's called the Apex Lab. It is a lab where kids are given the opportunity to go in there and earn some extra credits through online courses. They're self-paced. There's a teacher involved in those labs that helps those students stay on course, stay on track to getting that credit."
And Olivo says those programs are beneficial to students who have just completed middle school and want to get a head start on their high school education.
"The students who are seeking to make some room, if you will, in their graduation plan, can take those classes in the summer and go ahead and get those credits so when they get to high school they've already earned credits. And maybe they can take a class that they wanted to take as opposed to a class they have to take."
Olivo says the promotion-based classes are held in June, while pre-K and kindergarden programs run through the first week of July. There are also longer programs at some high schools. For more information on HISD summer programs, visit www.houstonisd.org/portal/site/summerschool/.