Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 2 Profiles of Promising Practices - 1995
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
The Summer Institute for At-Risk Migrant Students
Florida Department of Education.
- Residential program
- Highly individualized
The Summer Institute for At-Risk Migrant Students, a residential program sponsored by the Florida Department of Education, provides six weeks of intensive coursework and tutoring for 330 to 350 students. The institute, which evolved from a 1985 pilot project, is held at three Florida universities and targets middle and high school students as well as dropouts. Its goal is to help migrant students compensate for absences and partial credits, stay in school, and obtain a high school diploma. Participants work with guidance counselors to develop individualized goals for the summer, typically focusing on completing a specific credit toward promotion or graduation, or on remediation in reading, math, and other subjects.
This statewide program draws students from schools with high concentrations of migrant students. In 1992-93, the 330 participating students came from more than 80 schools and 30 different school districts. The number of participants varies each year, based on available funding. Most (83 percent) of the students are Hispanic; 11 percent are African American, 4 percent are Asian American (primarily Vietnamese), and 2 percent are Anglo. Participants are in grades 6-12, or are dropouts.
The summer institute expanded a local pilot program, responding to findings that being overage in grade was the most significant factor contributing to the dropout rate. To identify the migrant students at greatest risk of dropping out of school, the state department of education developed an identification and tracking system that determines the dropout risk for migrant students attending all Florida public schools based on (1) the number of years a student is placed below grade level according to age, (2) the number of school absences and interruptions, (3) English language proficiency, and (4) the extent of academic deficiencies determined by standardized tests and grades.
Major Program Features
- Planning and design. The program evolved from a 1985 pilot project in Pasco County, Florida, which showed that a majority of migrant high school students lacked credits needed for graduation--and were missing as much as one third of the school year. When the program was expanded statewide in 1986, it sought to provide at-risk migrant students with the opportunity to earn academic credits toward promotion and/or graduation; receive remediation in reading, math, and other deficient academic areas; develop study and life management skills; and improve self-esteem.
Recognizing that migrant students have differing needs, the program developed several strands aimed at specific grade-ranges and goals. Students are placed in one of four strands, which include:
- A middle school strand for students in grades 6-8, which focuses on intensive academic remediation and coursework completion required for promotion
- An "upgrade" strand, which provides intensive advanced coursework for overage seventh-grade students and enables them to advance to a grade placement more appropriate for their age
- A high school strand, which allows high school students to make up as many as 21/2 credits that would have otherwise been lost
- A dropout retrieval strand, which reconnects migrant dropouts with appropriate educational/vocational programs for which they may be eligible
- Academic focus. On weekdays, students receive breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by classes until 4 p.m. During the day, classes focus on language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, with individual student schedules set according to a "prescription for instruction" sent from the student's home district. After classes and before their 5:30 p.m. dinner, students can participate in recreational activities (e.g., soccer, basketball, tennis); from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., they attend sessions on study skills, career development, and tutoring. Students use the same textbooks and materials used in their regular classrooms, along with supplemental materials developed especially for the evening sessions.
The program has close ties with the students' home-school districts; program administrators view the institutes as a supplement or extension of the schools. Each home-school district includes an instruction plan on students' applications, and institute staff follow these closely. In addition, institute teachers must follow the state curriculum objectives and ensure that students master the instructional standards of each course.
The program is highly individualized. Each student meets with his or her guidance counselor to set short-range goals (e.g., obtaining a specific course credit or improving English skills) and long-range goals (e.g., graduation from high school and planning for college or a vocational program). Materials and schedules are selected to meet each individual's needs; therefore, a teacher may have to prepare five or six lesson plans each day to meet the needs of his or her students. Students receive between 9 and 10 hours of classroom instruction Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturdays are devoted to field trips; student government activities; and other educational, cultural, and recreational activities. Although Sunday nights are reserved for tutoring sessions, students may receive tutoring at any time.
- Organizational management/structure. The program begins at the end of the regular school year (mid-June) and continues through July. It is supervised by a state-level coordinator, and a residential supervisor oversees the program at each site. The number of additional staff is determined yearly to provide one classroom teacher for every 10 students, one residential counselor for every 10 students, and one guidance counselor for every 25 students at each site.
Teachers from throughout the state, including some ESL teachers, apply for the program and are selected on the basis of experience and other qualifications. Although the classroom teachers and guidance counselors play an important role in shaping students' goals and progress, the residential counselors work with the students most closely, serving as tutors, sports directors, field trip coordinators, surrogate parents, friends, and even nurses.
- Parent and community involvement. Although parent involvement is encouraged (through visits, participation in field trips, or other activities), the work schedules of most parents prevent their participation. Therefore, the primary role of the parent/guardian is to give permission for the student's participation. Private and public community agencies support the program with material goods based on documented student needs that cannot be met with program funds. For example, the Tampa Tribune has donated umbrellas, and the Lions Club donated bathing suits and eyeglasses.
- Professional environment. All staff receive three days of inservice training that focuses on the program's goals and objectives, ensures a complete understanding of the program's components, explains the relationship between the school district and the institute, and provides strategies for helping students adjust to the program and its academic activities. The sessions are conducted during the week before the program starts at each site. During the training, teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and other appropriate staff review the student applications and begin setting class schedules based on the documented needs.
- Funding. The institutes receive federal funding through the Title I Migrant Education Program and state funding through a variety of programs, including the Florida Department of Education Migrant Child Education Program, the Adult Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program, and the Food and Nutrition Program. The program also receives a small share of its funding from state general revenues. In addition, local public and private agencies provide support through in-kind donations. The annual budget for the institutes is $1 million, and the program coordinator estimates that the per-pupil expenditure is $3,200.
- Cultural inclusiveness. The program attempts to eliminate the cultural and psychological gaps between students and staff. Residential counselors, the staff members working closest to students, typically are former migrant students who know firsthand the difficulties confronting migrant students. Guest speakers--former migrant students who have "made it"--serve as role models. In addition, one day of inservice training focuses on cultural sensitivity and strategies for teaching child-ren with limited English proficiency. This session is conducted by a traveling team from Florida Atlantic University and is aimed at building staff awareness of the students' cultural backgrounds.
- Assessment and accountability. Teachers monitor student progress daily and share problems or concerns about students on a regular basis. If problems are identified--either with an individual student or an aspect of the program--the entire staff works as a team to address the deficiency.
Evaluations are built into the program, and each year the sites assess the percentage of students reaching personal goals such as course completion. More than 90 percent of the students successfully complete the requirements and receive full credit for their courses.
The program design reflects lessons learned from the 1985 pilot project, which failed to attract significant numbers of at-risk migrant students. A survey found three reasons: (1) Since migrant parents move frequently during the summer, a day program was not practical for them, (2) parents expected older children to work in the fields to assist the family financially, and (3) students needed credits that would count toward high school graduation not just remediation of skills.
In response to the survey, the program changed before expanding statewide. The format was modified from a day program to a residential program, so students could stay while their parents traveled and worked during the summer. Students were provided automatic and earned stipends, thereby enabling migrant families to offset some of their children's lost potential earnings. Noncredit remedial courses were replaced by courses that carry credit toward high school graduation.
Program developers decided that the program should be held on a college campus to familiarize migrant students with college life and eliminate the sense of intimidation many students felt. The state department of education announced a proposal request to all colleges in the state, and program staff selected three universities on the basis of their record serving disadvantaged students and whether they could provide sufficient resources. Participants are treated as college students, with full access to the institution's recreational facilities, library, labs, and computer centers. By interacting with other college students, participants learn that a college education is within their reach.
According to the program coordinator, some critics originally feared that students would not be able to stay focused during the long days; in student evaluations at the end of the program, participants have requested more free time. However, program staff wanted to include as many classroom opportunities as possible to help students make up for lost time. The coordinator said that the institutes are able to motivate students by enabling them to concentrate on learning activities because the program meets most of the students' needs for health, nutritional, social, financial, and other support services.
Evidence of Success
A four-year longitudinal study of students who participated in the program between 1988 and 1991 showed that 89 percent of the high school students who completed the program stayed in school and graduated, compared with 54 percent of a control group. Similar results were recorded for middle grade students, with program participants showing dropout rates of 0 percent for seventh graders and 2 percent for eighth graders; of control group students, 12 percent dropped out in seventh grade and 24 percent did so in eighth grade. In addition, program administrators have anecdotal evidence that the institutes have improved migrant students' attitudes and perceptions about school so that they now see high school graduation as an important goal.
[Summer Enhancement Program ]
[Summer Program For At-Risk Students]