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

Summer Program For At-Risk Students

South Bend, Indiana

Key Characteristics


This five-week, summer Title I Migrant Education project uses a theme-based, interdisciplinary curriculum to help more than 500 students in grades pre-K-10 succeed in the regular school program, attain grade-level proficiency, and improve their academic achievement in basic and advanced skills. The program, which began in 1968 and targets students who are migrant or nonnative English speakers, emphasizes geography, science, the arts, media, and technology. The themes, chosen by students and the project director, provide a focus for computer labs, library research, and journal writing.

School Context

South Bend, Indiana, is an urban community that has lost many manufacturing jobs in recent years. The school district contains 20,000 students, of whom about 29 percent are African American, 5 percent are Hispanic, and 2 percent are Asian American. The dropout rate among language minority students is about 15 percent. Most students who attend the summer program live on the west side of town, where the majority of Hispanics live.

The program, held at a single school site each year, focuses on helping mostly Hispanic language-minority students acquire the skills, knowledge, and support needed to enter school, remain at grade level, learn English or pursue accelerated studies, graduate from high school, and find productive employment or pursue higher education. Many of the students are considered to be at risk of school failure because of their limited proficiency in English, high mobility, and cultural traits.

Major Program Features

Implementation Issues

Extensive coordination and collaboration within the community are important. The project leader began by forming personal relationships with important allies, such as school principals, district administrators, and members of community organizations; these relationships improved the effectiveness of working groups that helped design and implement the program. Six months before the summer program begins, the director convenes district administrators, bilingual and migrant education administrators, summer teachers, and community representatives to discuss the program. She also meets annually with the principal of the designated summer school site to gain local support.

Transportation to the program is provided on school buses hired by the district, which funds summer programs throughout the district.

Because air conditioning is not available, teachers must make sure that students drink enough water to prevent dehydration. The district's bilingual education division also provides fans.

Evidence of Success

Program directors offer the following evidence of success: (1) increases of up to three proficiency levels among 19 limited-English-proficient students taking CTB-McGraw Hill's Language Assessment Scale in 1992; (2) an increase in the attendance rate from 90 percent to 92 percent; and (3) increased enrollment (from 217 students in 1989 to more than 500 in 1994). The program received the U.S. Secretary of Education's Chapter 1 National Recognition Program Award for three consecutive years.

In some cases, students have leveraged success with the summer program into opportunities to participate in other activities. More than 100 art projects produced by students in the summer program were selected to compete in the local 4-H fair in 1992; two students from the summer program also attended a summer leadership institute for Hispanic girls; in 1991, 25 participants in seventh, eighth, or ninth grade who had perfect attendance in the summer migrant program also participated in a summer job program, and 25 students participated in one of two special programs at Indiana University.

[The Summer Institute for At-Risk Migrant Students] [Table of Contents] [Total Action Against Poverty (TAP)]