Middletown parents upset over surprise summer-school news
There were a lot of angry responses, all of them advising parents in a resounding "Just say no!" to keep their kids out of this summer intervention.
By Richard J. Bayne
MIDDLETOWN -- Thursday was the last day of class for elementary school children in the Middletown School District, but some primary-grade parents are reeling from a last-minute surprise -- their kids will have to attend a mandatory summer school intervention to go on to the next grade.
Many parents whose kids were identified for the summer intervention didn't get notification until Wednesday.
"How come parents weren't informed? How come teachers weren't informed?" asked Maple Hill Elementary parent Stephanie Roman, who got a letter Wednesday. Roman, whose 6-year-old daughter, Mia, finished kindergarten Thursday, said a line of parents was gathered at school Thursday to press teachers and administrators about the letters. Roman said her daughter's teacher never indicated any problems. "Her teacher has had nothing but great things to say about her," Roman said.
Superintendent Ken Eastwood apologized for the late notification, saying the notices should have gone out at least a month ago, but he defended the necessity of the program.
"I'm not happy with that (the late notification)," Eastwood said, "but the long and short of it is, we have to make sure that these kids are successful over the long term. We have to do whatever intervention is needed to get it done."
The children in the summer program are identified based on local math and English language assessment tests administered three times a year, Eastwood said. He said the district is committed to addressing academic insufficiencies in grades K-2 to head off academic failure, and that's where summer school money will be allocated.
About 600 students
This year, he said, there will be about 600 students in the K-2 intervention program. It will run for five weeks, Monday through Thursday, starting July 7. At the end, students will be re-evaluated to determine if they are ready to move on to the next grade level. The program will cost the district about $300,000, he said.
Eastwood said the district has done similar intervention programs before, but what's different this year is the number of participants is much higher -- by about 25 percent. And the late notification issue has many parents upset.
Eastwood said beefed-up standards are putting pressure on the district and the kids.
"We've never had standards like we do now," he said. "We have to get these kids ready for academic challenges, we have to do something significant."
The letter Roman received said a "comprehensive review" of Mia's "academic portfolio" and "multiple assessment measures" indicated the need for the intervention.
"Since when in kindergarten do they have an academic portfolio?" Roman said. "Are they kidding me?"
Richard J. Bayne
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