AUSTIN EDITION Summer programs provide more opportunities for ongoing learning
By Roxana Orellana
The school year does not always end in early June for every student.
For those in Special Services summer programs, the learning is continuous. The Austin School District offered several programs this summer including English as a Second Language for grades three through eight, autism-oriented classes and an extended school year for preschoolers to high school students.
For a student to qualify for the extended school year and other special-education courses during the summer, he or she must be assigned by the special-education team and be recommended by a teacher.
Director of Special Education Julie Ladwig said there are fewer students who qualify for the educational courses than in the past because the need must be proved. To qualify, there must be proof of potential regression in learning caused by the extended time without schooling during summer. Conducting the program during summer helps stop the regression, so the student does not have to catch up once the school year begins in the fall, Ladwig said.
This year, the classes were consolidated at Austin High School and Woodson School to take advantage of air-conditioned classrooms. Other classes took place at Ellis Middle School and an elementary school.
Students are bused if necessary. Each student has a designed education program to meet goals by the end of the summer.
"I walked through some of the classrooms yesterday and visited with some of the students," Ladwig said. "They're having fun and learning a lot. They really benefit from attending these classes."
A new program this year was for ESL, which was run through the targeted services. Thirty students in grades three through eight took classes from June 9 to July 3. They were separated into two groups and attended classes five days a week from 8 a.m. to noon. They worked on reading and language skills.
The district had 20 students at the elementary level and 16 Early Childhood Special Education autism students with classes spread out into three to four days a week. According to a previous update at a school board meeting, the child count in autism has risen from 16 to 23 districtwide. Ellis will provide an autism classroom next year.
Students in the special education programs have various needs. Some students may have minor learning disabilities, autism or be developmental cognitive delayed, most of which call for consistent learning, Ladwig said.
For some of the students, summer school will end today. Others have one more week left.