Tupelo offers summer help for struggling students

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo School District will offer extra schooling for struggling students this summer.
The School Board voted Thursday to hold extended school year and summer school programs this summer. The district has had both programs in the past but did not offer either during the past two summers.
It will also have a new program this summer to help elementary students with dyslexia.
The extended school program will be for kindergarten to 12th-grade students who were close to passing reading or math courses but need some extra help. Students will be referred to the month-long program by their teachers and must attend and pass it to be promoted to the next grade level.
Summer school will be only for high school students. The six-week program will allow them to retake a course they have failed and to get credit in that course. Those courses will mostly be offered through an online program.
Non-Tupelo students will be able to pay tuition to enroll in Tupelo’s summer school with their principal’s permission.
Deputy superintendent Diana Ezell said the extended school year program will essentially be like a fifth nine-weeks.
“Extended school year is an option for students who would be failing to be promoted to the next grade,” Ezell said. “We will also offer it to students who need extra support. You don’t have to be failing to need intervention. It can be to help before you fail.”
The program will target grade K-2 students who are reading below grade level and grade 3-5 students who are failing in reading and math. It will also be for students enrolled in the High School Advancement Academy, which is for those who are two years behind their age peers.
The program is part of the district’s efforts to reduce its achievement gap, Ezell said. “They need time during the summer not only to move ahead but to avoid moving backward,” she said.
What often happens during the summer, she said, is students of means do academically enriching activities not as easily accessible for lower income students.
“The summer can cause a bigger achievement gap than what happens in the regular school year,” she said. “These programs keep us from having to do so much review when the school year starts because these kids are ready to start.”
Kindergarten to fifth-grade students will be recommended to the dyslexia program by their teachers. It will be facilitated by three dyslexia therapists who work in the district.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com