About 8,000 students participated this summer, compared to 23,500 last year. Far more students enrolled in the district’s five-week summer academic program, which concluded this month.
BY KRISTEN TAKETA, THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE REPORTER JULY 31, 2023 5:00 A.M.
San Diego Unified’s summer enrichment program, which has been one of the school district’s main COVID-19 recovery strategies, is serving significantly fewer students than it has the past two years.
About 8,000 students enrolled in this summer’s program, down from 23,500 last year and 13,700 the year before, according to the district. About 71 percent of students in the program this year are “priority” students, meaning they are low-income, homeless, foster youth, English learners or students with disabilities.
The district intended to have fewer students participate this year so it could provide more hours of programming for them, said Tobie Pace, the district’s senior director of extended learning opportunities.
During the past two summers, the district offered part-time enrichment programs that took place only a few days a week and lasted only a few hours.
This year the district changed the programs to instead offer full-time programs — nine hours a day, five days a week — after hearing from some working families that the part-time programs didn’t work for their child care needs.
“The actual numbers are overall lower than what we’ve had the previous two years. However the … hours of programming are larger than we’ve ever had,” Pace said.
The district also targeted the summer program more toward priority students than in previous years. Priority students were given an advance two-week enrollment window for the summer program, Pace said.
Far more students enrolled in the district’s five-week summer academic program, which concluded this month.
About 27,500 students took academic classes, including 6,600 high school students who took credit recovery. Of those, 222 earned enough summer credits to graduate, Pace said.
Students in the academic program had made small improvements by the end of the session. There was a 3 percent gain in K-8 reading and math scores from the start to the end of the summer program, Pace said.
The summer program is not just about improving academics, Pace said, but providing a healthy social outlet for students while school is out.
When schools close for the summer, some students lose access to support from adults and learning and physical activities that they had at school, so the district’s summer program is meant to fill in for that.
The district is spending about $13 million on this year’s summer enrichment and academic programs, which is about how much it spent last year, Pace said. This year’s summer programs are funded with a state grant that supports extended learning.
This year, San Diego Unified offered more than 90 enrichment programs through more than 80 local nonprofits. Programs were held on 77 school campuses and 58 off-site locations.