CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Going to school at home over the internet during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic didn't work out well for lots of Corpus Christi Independent School District students.
The proof is in the grade level failure rate more than doubling from around 1,800 students during a normal school year to around 4,000 during the 2020-2021 school year.
"Some students were successful being remote," CCISD Title 1 Director Amanda Cameron said. "But other students struggled in getting them here and making sure they were engaged every single day.”
With so many more students than usual in need of summer school to advance to the next grade level, the district has expanded that program from 12 to 20 days this year.
It means more hours in the classroom, but district leaders hope parents will make sure their children are there every day.
"Strong attendance is a key to academic success," CCISD Special Programs Director Velma Salazar said. "We want them to come.”
Finding enough teachers to work the expanded summer school sessions was proving to be a problem for the district.
That's why they almost doubled the pay from $25 per hour to $45.
The summer school pay rate is staying the same, $30 per hour, at neighboring West Oso Independent School District even though they too saw an increased number of failing students.
But that number is much smaller than CCISD, and while they didn't provide exact figures, district leaders say they aren't making any changes to the traditional summer school program.
What they are doing is starting optional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) camps and other programs in hopes of encouraging all students to continue the learning process over the summer.
“It’s not only about remediation," WOISD Superintendent Conrado Garcia said. "That’s important to know. It’s about enrichment and going beyond that.”
Another new summer program the district is adding is called a bridge program.
It's for kids who are going to school for the first time in kindergarten or first grade, students moving from elementary school to junior high, and students moving from junior high to high school.
“Those programs are going to be academic, but they’re also going to be looking at social-emotional (needs) helping those students be confident and secure going into that new campus,” WOISD Executive Director of Academics Kim Moore said.
We also heard from school leaders at Gregory-Portland Independent School District.
Because of the COVID-19 learning gap, they're extending the normal 11-day summer program to at least 13 days for middle and high schoolers with additional days possible depending on how much re-testing a student needs to do.