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The Current

District-offered summer school needed for student success

Students work on assignments online during Mr. Carrow’s fourth period history class to keep their grades up to prevent them from attending APEX classes. Photo by Taylor Wohlgemuth

What do you do if you need help in your education? The simple solution is to get tutoring after school with our helpful Bear River teachers. But for the few students who either haven’t taken certain classes or others who failed the classes, the only option is APEX, an online program that is meant to replace part of the curriculum. 

Senior Alex Siegenthaler is enrolled in APEX health, since he transferred to Bear River after freshman year, and hadn’t taken health classes at his former school, and he lacked the necessary credits to graduate. 

“It’s a super easy class to get through and pass, all you have to do is complete every answer, and you’ll get a good grade,” he said, “It’s not a super great learning experience.”

Since APEX classes are solely offered online, internet connection and power to charge your device are the only things needed to complete the class. Due to the power outages beginning in October of 2019 that affected Grass Valley and the surrounding areas, many APEX assignments had to be discarded, as students were unable to complete on them. 

Former APEX student and Senior Alex Fassel expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of consistent help in his math credit recovery class.

“Everything I needed to pass the class wasn’t given to me right away,” he said, “I couldn’t get much help from the teacher since the whole course was online, so I almost had to teach myself.” 

In the past, struggling students would have the option to attend summer school, which allowed you to earn back the credit you missed during the standard school year, and according to Mr. Mason, it could even be used for a small GPA boost. About 20 years ago, academic intervention through summer school was offered widely in Nevada Joint Union High School District for both credit recovery and voluntary GPA boosting classes. It is no longer offered for a multitude of reasons.

NJUHSD Superintendent Brett McFadden is invested in doing everything in the best interest of his district and works to better all learning for all students. 

“My fundamental responsibility as a superintendent is to do everything I can to set us up for great learning and interactions. Under model changes for funding summer school was impacted as a program that was not included in the official curriculum,” he said.

According to Brett McFadden, in the early 2000s and late 1990s, summer school was a widespread part of almost all schools in California. However, as the total amount of students began to decline in districts in Northern California, so did the funding provided for all schools involved.

According to ED Source School Finance, between 2009 and 2018 enrollment in Nevada Joint Union High School District student enrollment dropped from 3,754 students to 2,775 students, dropping on average 110 students per school year.

The website also states that, consistent with the decrease in the enrollment of students, federal and state funding for single student revenue dropped by four million dollars over nine years, however, property tax values increased by about half as much, and still with a net loss of two million dollars from the annual district revenue. This decline of funds inadvertently led to the reduction of summer school, and the instatement of APEX for students today.

The reason students get into APEX classes is either by low grades or a complete lack of a class. Spanish and APEX teach Sean Mason has a sour opinion of our credit recovery classes and would be open to new summer school opportunities instead. 

“Some students remain unmotivated in APEX, so It’d be interesting to offer a course over the summer that we don’t have in the standard curriculum,” he said. 

Summer school programs throughout the state of California typically offer the exact same programs as their standard school curriculum, along with specialized math, english, science classes, statistics, literature study, and anatomy. Since none of these are offered at Bear River, a summer school program would be beneficial to students who seek to enhance their learning experience. 

Junior Kyle Houston is enrolled in Integrated math II recovery to replace the credits he lacks from his sophomore year. His class of around 20 students is a group that take a variety of different recovery classes, and since their actual work is online, different classes can all be grouped together. 

“In the actual class it’s super easy to get work done and it’s just like a study hall, all the online work can get done super easily, “ he said. 

Our district is insufficient with our credit recovery options and in-class interactions with APEX. Some classes are nearly self-taught by students without a consistently devoted teacher. The class is still useful as a study hall, but summer school could be a superior strategy to helping struggling students.

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District-offered summer school needed for student success