The following article is being posted under the "fair use" provisions of section 107 of the US Copyright Law. =======================================================================
The Hartford Courant 27 June 2000 Page A3
Headline: Hot for summer school Amato pushes test preparation Byline: Van Alden Ferguson, Courant Staff Writer
For Hartford's Superintendent of Schools Anthony S. Amato, getting a group of fifth-graders at the steamy Barnard-Brown School excited about a summer's worth of practice for the Connecticut Mastery Test was a tough sell.
The 16 students were seated in a sweltering classroom Monday with only a box fan for comfort. Amato, wearing a beige suit with his jacket buttoned, wanted them to be animated about summer school.
"How are you going to do on the CMTs?" Amato asked the students over the noise of a fan. The students' response was polite but muted. He tried again.
"I got great and I got excellent. How are you going to do on the CMTs?" Amato asked.
"Excellent," the students said a little bit louder.
Amato kicked off the first day of a summer school program, dubbed "Summer Power School 2000," with class visits at Barnard-Brown and the air-conditioned Parkville School.
But Amato has his work cut out for him as less than a third of students enrolled in the targeted grades during the 1999-2000 school year showed up. A little more than half of those who said they were coming to summer school came.
The program, for students who this year were in kindergarten, grades 3, 5, 7 and 8, provides five weeks of academics in the morning and recreation in the afternoon. For students in grades 3, 5 and 7, the program is heavily geared to getting ready for the mastery test of reading, writing and mathematics that they will take in the fall. Students who are failing a grade are urged to attend to avoid being retained, school officials said. There are also students in the program who are working on grade level.
About 4,500 of the estimated 9,130 students in those elementary grades signed up for summer school. Of those who signed up, 2,711 reported to the summer program on the first day. Jacqueline Hardy, Amato's spokeswoman, said the numbers would have been higher, but hundreds of students were not picked up by school buses. She added that Amato is trying to determine what caused the problem.
Hardy added that the family resource aide in each school is calling homes of absent students to urge parents to send them to school.
Last year--Amato's first attempt at widespread summer school enrollment--39 percent of students in grades 3, 5 and 7 attended. Scores on September's mastery test rose at many Hartford schools.
After a year of drills during the school day and spring vacation, the prospect of summertime school may wear on students. But teachers and administrators say they need all the work they can get.
Some students say they are a little tired of the mastery test drills and extra sessions, but they added that they want to improve their education.
"We're learning and getting smarter," said Deshawn Jones, who will be a King School sixth-grader in the fall.