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Hall County summer school changes will save $1 million
Students who fail CRCT will retake it in May
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Hear Gerald Boyd, school improvement specialist for Hall County schools, describe how summer school will be quite different in Hall County this year.

Hall County students who fail the state’s standardized test this year won’t have to give up days on the lake to retake the test in summer school this June.

Gerald Boyd, school improvement specialist for Hall County schools, said third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students who do not pass the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test on their first try in mid-April will retake the test in mid-May before school lets out.

The CRCT is the state’s yardstick for measuring academic progress for elementary and middle schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Boyd outlined several changes for Hall County’s CRCT intervention summer school program.

"The way it’s going to be different is, essentially, we’re not going to do it," he said.

Instead of spending more than $300,000 to hire summer school personnel for the three-week CRCT program that tutored 1,200 students last June, Boyd said students who fail the test in April will enter an intensive, in-school two-week program in early May.

Boyd said the move will leave 13 schools closed this summer, saving the system "in the neighborhood of $1 million."

He said the April CRCT results will be rushed to educators to allow them to determine which students need to retake the state test in May after they attend in-school tutoring sessions mornings and afternoons. He said the students will still attend some of their regular classes during the intervention program.

Boyd said there are many advantages to altering the CRCT summer school program. The in-school program will allow the system to tutor and re-administer the test to all third-, fifth- and eighth-graders who do not pass the CRCT. Some students typically do not show up for the summer program, he said.

"We’ve never really had this opportunity before where they’re all there," Boyd said.

Though the program, which runs about two weeks, will instruct students for fewer days, Boyd said they will receive more instruction time than in the traditional, three-week half-day June program. He said he anticipates more re-takers to pass the CRCT this year. Last summer, about half of students who retook it in the summer passed, he said.

For high school students seeking to make up course credit this summer for classes they may fail, summer school will be offered through online courses that are less expensive both for parents and the school system.

Cindy Blakley, director of secondary education for Hall County schools, said parents paid $375 per student last year for the summer school credit recover program. The online version will cost only $175.

Blakley said the online course summer program isn’t designed for students who need serious instruction, but is meant for students who may have failed a course by just a few points. She said the online program will offer a wider scope of classes than traditional summer school.

This summer’s program will require only one or two full-time teachers to oversee online instruction, Blakley said. Last summer, 15 teachers, many part time, were used in summer school.

Blakley said the summer credit recovery program changes will save the system about $40,000.

Now that Hall County allows students to recover credits during the school year, only 150 students entered the summer make-up program, she said. That number is expected to drop further this year.

Neil Yarrington, special education specialist for Hall County, said the system’s four-week extended school year program for special-needs students is unaffected by the changes.

Gainesville school administrators say their summer school programs will mostly remain the same as last year’s.