Naperville’s District 203 looks back, and ahead, with summer school    

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Cold weather is on the horizon, and the regular school year is well underway, but Naperville School District 203 officials are in the process of reviewing summer school curriculum for next year with several new opportunities in the works across all grade levels.

Administrators presented the board of education with a list of new course proposals at a recent meeting, with action anticipated on Nov. 13. Before a final vote is cast on next year’s program structure, the board had a detailed discussion of this past summer’s outcomes.

D203 student achievement data in academic courses

While District 203 offers an array of enrichment courses and activities across all grade levels in the summer, more pressing academic opportunities also are provided to students performing below grade level in core curricular areas.

Achievement data from this past summer school was shared in a report to the board at the most recent meeting Oct. 16. There were improvements in a number of subjects in a four-year analysis that began at the height of the pandemic.

However, there have also been some courses with persistent declines. For instance, in high school, 70% of students enrolled in a geometry class earned a “C or better, according to the analysis, which is the lowest ranking of the four-year analysis.

Board member Melissa Kelley Black urged administrators to hone in on the data and keep it top-of-mind, even though summer school is still more than half a year away.

“The longer they’re behind that standard, they’re struggling more and more just to do the work in their average class,” Kelley Black said. “My thing is if we didn’t do as well as we should have or could have, let’s look at the information now so that we can make timely changes.”

During the recent lengthy discussion, Jayne Willard, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, assured board members that achievement data gleaned from summer school is indeed incorporated into instruction during the regular school year.

“We track our students all the time, throughout the year,” Willard said. “Our schools know who was in our summer program, and we don’t stop tracking their data. We absolutely continue that process through the school year.”

Enrollment was down this past summer

Overall enrollment in summer 2023 courses was down from the year prior, but continued to outpace student participation before the pandemic’s onset.

Kevin Wojtkiewicz, director of summer learning, attributed several potential reasons to the dip, including the end of a free class offering that had been available for the past several years.

There were a number of highlights this past summer that could continue in 2024 and beyond. Wojtkiewicz said the rollout of a new internship work-based learning course at the high school level was deemed a success.

“With this first year iteration of the program, we had a variety of college and career pathways represented across many different employers,” Wojtkiewicz said, pointing to information technology, agriculture plant sciences and human and public services as examples.

Collaborative relationships with several organizations and governing entities also have been an important backbone of summer school.

“Our partnership with the Naperville Public Library brought an extra touch of magic to the summer,” Wojtkiewicz said. “Each student had the pleasure of receiving a free book, promoting a love for reading.”

What’s ahead for 2024 summer school

District 203 administrators are planning several tweaks to summer school curriculum in 2024.

For instance, several new career-related experiences are on the docket for high school. Among them: a survey of healthcare careers offering, as well as a pharmacy technician prep course.

From a budgetary standpoint, Wojtkiewicz and other district officials are anticipating increased or flat enrollment next summer. More transportation options could be available, and breakfast and snack offerings are proposed for all students.

Board member Kristin Fitzgerald lauded Wojtkiewicz and other District 203 administrators for their work with the summer school program.

“I think sometimes we forget that summer school is a resource that not every school district has,” Fitzgerald said. To Wojtkiewicz, she said, “We’re so lucky, and we’re so appreciative, of the fact you and your team work so hard.”

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