Summer is now being considered a period of regression for some students, with area school districts and teachers reporting they are having to reteach concepts from the previous school year again and again due to the number of students not being able to retain knowledge over the break.

To counter that, the Independence School District introduced its “Summer Success” program this summer school session that has a more academic focus than previous programs.

“Teachers have given us feedback letting us know that they spend valuable time at the beginning of the (school) year reviewing what students had learned in the previous year...” wrote Independence Superintendent Dale Herl. “According to one study, ‘summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores.’”

Herl added the goal of the Summer Success program is to help reinforce what students have already learned, along with getting a preview of what they will be learning in the upcoming school year.

“It is our goal to mitigate that learning and need for review by creating a summer school that will bridge the gap between grades and give students a head start when they begin school in the fall.”

More than half of the district’s nearly 15,000 students are enrolled in Summer Success. From now until June 26, K-8 students are attending summer school four days a week that places emphasis on all four core subjects: Math, language arts, social studies and science. Physical education and technology sessions to take a break from studies are held every day as well. High schoolers were offered specific courses.

According to sixth grade Summer Success ELA teacher Emily Miller, the curriculum is similar to the one used during a school year. She wrote this change in the district’s summer school program will help students stay in the structure and consistency of school.

“This year, the structure is much better and the kiddos are responding to it very well,” she wrote. “They have adapted to it and are taking this challenge head on. I am so proud of them.”

But what do the students think of this more academically rigorous summer program? Surprisingly, sixth graders at Bridger Middle School are being receptive to it.

“Good,” Ms. Miller’s class all said in unison Tuesday morning.

“Change is good,” said one student. “If we just have fun, we can’t keep it (knowledge) in our memories.”

As with previous summer school sessions in the district, students are still eligible to receive a $50 gift card if they have perfect attendance and $25 gift card for those who miss one day, Herl wrote.

“It is amazing to me,” wrote Miller. “The students are excited and willing to continue school, even on their summer break.”

“I think the kids really enjoy being here (at Summer Success). They get to see their friends and keep growing as a scholar. It’s a win-win.”