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 Enhancement Program

Charleston County Public Schools
Charleston, South Carolina

Key Characteristics


Charleston's six-week, science-based summer enhancement program has helped at-risk students in grades K-5 maintain and improve their skills in reading, writing, and mathematics since 1989. The program targets at-risk, Title I students who pass their classes but would benefit from a summer enrichment program. The program has two goals: (1) to maintain and improve students' basic skills through experiential learning activities in science-based thematic units, and (2) to improve student attitudes toward school and learning.

School Context

In 1993, two urban and four rural elementary schools in Charleston County offered the program and enrolled 500 K-5 students. All of the schools incorporated the program into their Title I schoolwide projects. In 1994, the program expanded to two additional schools. Ninety-eight percent of the students participating are African American, and 2 percent are Anglo. At least 75 percent--and at some schools up to 99 percent--of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The program traditionally has not served migrant students because the district has a separate migrant education program. However, one of the recently added sites (Frierson Elementary School) serves some migrant students. A homeless shelter is located near another program site, Sanders-Clyde Elementary School, and a few homeless children enroll in that school's summer program. In previous years, a small number of religious school students who participated in Title I programs also have attended.

With a few exceptions, students must be enrolled in Title I to attend the program, and parents must register the children. Children who are not enrolled in Title I may attend on the basis of teacher recommendations and low scores on standardized tests. The program focuses on enrichment activities, rather than remediation for students who have failed a class.

Major Program Features

Implementation Issues

Each site has grappled with having to entice children to participate when they are not required to attend summer school. Some teachers hold a pizza party or provide ice cream on Fridays for students with perfect attendance. Others plan frequent field trips. At the program's onset, children were admitted if they were enrolled in Title I programs during the school year. In the third year of implementation, program staff reviewed the children who were enrolled and found that the children in grades four and five with the greatest need for the program were not attending. As a result, teachers began offering the attendance incentives.

Logistical issues are not a problem, according to a site director and the program coordinator. Most of the children in inner-city schools walk to the program; students who live more than three miles from the school ride on school buses provided by Title I. The sites have not had problems obtaining air conditioning, security, or other facility needs. At most sites, parents must make a commitment not to let family vacation plans conflict with a child's participation in the program.

Evidence of Success

The summer program's 1993 evaluation report showed that average daily attendance was 90 percent, higher than in previous summer programs. Pre- and post-tests on mathematical concepts indicated that 83 percent of the summer enhancement program students mastered basic outcomes--23 percent more than on the pretest. For mathematical problem-solving, 81 percent of the students mastered advanced outcomes, up 44 percent from the pretest. According to a computer analysis, in 1993 students in the program borrowed 12,413 books from the school libraries--an average of 30 books per student. Ninety-nine percent of the students reported an improved attitude toward reading after participating in the program.
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