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8:16 PM Tue, Jan. 22nd

First intercession helps hundreds of students catch up

Jeri Wolsey

Jeri Wolsey

KINGMAN - Kingman Unified School District wrapped up its first intersession on Oct. 9, and while many students and teachers enjoyed the two-week break, more than 450 students took advantage of the first week of break to catch up on schoolwork.

At Kingman High School, which is the only school that reported data on failing grades, 121 out of 346 failing grades were brought up to passing.

"I feel like it went really well," said Jeri Wolsey, director of curriculum for KUSD. "We showed student mastery of the concepts taught. They took a test at the end of the week for concepts, and it looked like they showed growth."

The 45-10 schedule was originally proposed with this mastery concept in mind. Students who were falling behind in the semester could spend the first week of intersession working with teachers to get back up to speed.

Teachers from their regular classes would put together missing work that the student could catch up on in a folder, and teachers who worked during the intersession helped students complete that work.

"All of that work was given back to their teachers, and they got credit for what they got done," said Wolsey. "The schools worked well together. They collaborated and got everything out."

School board member Laurie Voss Barthlow said at the October board meeting that parents and residents were concerned that the intersession programs were mandatory. Wolsey responded that these programs were completely optional, but "strongly encouraged."

That encouragement was reflected in the attendance rate for the entire district - 913 students were invited to intersession to catch up on schoolwork and 51 percent, or 469 students, attended. That doesn't include the 70 students who attended Saturday school the weekend before at Lee Williams High School. Lee Williams periodically holds Saturday school for students to catch up on grades.

Funding was an issue this first session. All the teachers are paid via grants such as the 21st Century Grant and Gear Up. The district couldn't get enough grants to fund as many teachers as it would like to.

"Probably the most frustrating thing was, we were hoping to have more funds available to expand this program and have more opportunities," said superintendent Roger Jacks during October's board meeting.

"We had to identify the most academically needy students. There was hope to have more enrichment activities. We didn't have the funds to do that."

The district also didn't have enough buses to bring in high school students, and is looking into implementing that in the future.

The Kingman Parks and Recreation Department and the Boys and Girls Club were both on hand to help provide activities for students not attending school, but needing something to do.

Bill Ward from the Boys and Girls club said that he had 51 registered members during the intersession week, and on average served 34 a day. That's down from the nearly 100 students they see during the school year.

Ward attributed the lack of buses running to the club and the cost as possible explanations for the lower attendance. The club was open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and parents could either pay by the day for $10/day or pay for the entire intersession for $75.

"We will always be available for when school closes," Ward said, and confirmed that they will be open for the next intersession, as well.

The district has until March to work on securing more funding and providing more programs. The next intersession will take place on March 7, during what would normally be spring break.