Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's a Cruel, Cruel Summer

Among the many budget casualties in FY’11 was the drastic cut in funds for DCPS Summer School. While some young people spend during the summer months watching TV or hanging out with their friends, many youth depend on Summer School to help improve academic skills or to get ahead in their coursework for the next year. Yet, others rely on Summer School in order to be promoted to the next grade level or to even recover enough credits to graduate on time.

Last year, DCPS maintained open enrollment for all high school students who needed to attend summer school, resulting in an average daily attendance of 3,800 students. However, for Summer 2011, the number of high school spots faces a drastic reduction due to budget constraints. This summer, DCPS will only offer Summer School for high school Seniors who are within three credits of graduation. And unlike in years past, summer classes will only be offered at Ballou, McKinley, Coolidge and Eliot-Hine High Schools.

The lack of academic opportunities offered by DCPS this summer comes as an especially tough blow given the low levels of educational proficiency that exist across the District. DCAYA’s joint report with Critical Exposure and the John Hopkins Everybody Graduates Center revealed that 48% of the nearly 1,000 youth surveyed reported failing one or more of their classes. 22% reported failing between two to four of their classes and nearly 25% of high school students surveyed reported that they had repeated a grade.

Although high school students in the District are largely on par with national trends in their Summer School attendance (about 21%, National Center for Education Statistics), the need in the District for expanded opportunities for ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders is far greater. In 2007, 73.4% of DCPS’ drop-out population came from the ninth grade, 14.6% came from the sophomore population, and 6.5% came from high school juniors. This means that almost 95% of youth who dropped out of school in DC did so before their senior year--- a rate far above the national average of 75.2%.

By limiting District high school students’ ability to regain credit during the summer months, DCPS will severely stymie the ability of thousands of high school students not just to graduate on time, but to graduate at all. Though there is little that can be done to help rectify the situation for Summer 2011, there is still time to ensure that the summer of 2012 does not provide the same bleak landscape of educational opportunity to DC’s high school students.

This is Part 1 of a series of blogs about the effects of the FY'11 Budget Cuts on children and youth in DC. Stay tuned over the next two weeks as we give you the rundown of how cuts have already started to erode progress made in the District in areas like positive youth development programming, education, health and juvenile justice.

If you are interested in guest blogging about a specific issue please contact Anne Abbott, DCAYA's Membership and Communications Coordinator at anne(at)

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