If acceleration of student learning should occur in addition to, not instead of, regular classroom instruction, where can this time be found? Here are some ideas:
- Summer school – with a focus on the coming year rather than on last year. This could start with the summer before Kindergarten for students who are identified as being at risk.
- Before and after school – many students catch buses that drop them off at or pick them up from school thirty to forty five minutes before and/or after school.
- Weekends and lunch hour – these would be a tough sell.
I think summer school and before and after school are probably both viable. Before and after school could be used to accelerate instruction of current learning goals, while summer school for primary students could be used to accelerate literacy and numeracy. Both programs should be fun and engaging so students feel like it is enrichment, not punishment.
Summer school acceleration could include recreational activities, art and crafts, and physical education, and a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. Parents would likely be willing to have their students attend, in fact the jealousy of parents of students who were not referred could become one of the biggest concerns.
Transportation would be a major concern for summer school. In order to achieve the goal of serving the most vulnerable students, bus transportation would be necessary. This would not be cheap, but if the program succeeded in diverting students from Special Education and Learning Assistance, and if the number of students who graduate on time and the number students who go on to attend post secondary school was increased even marginally, the program would be worth the price.