AUBURN | Despite a decrease in funding this year, the Summer School Transition and Enrichment Program was a success for students within the Auburn school district.
The board of education received an update at its meeting on Tuesday night from Michael Miller, principal of SSTEP. The voluntary summer learning program for students entering grades 1 through 3 aims to enhance literacy skills throughout the summer months.
This year, 96 students participated in the program three hours per day for 24 days, and Miller said that 80 percent were able to master the skills they worked on during the summer. Superintendent Constance Evelyn said that although the district had less money for this year's program than in the past, the teachers were able to use it as an opportunity to take advantage of recently purchased software such as Imagine Learning, a game meant to help students increase their literacy skills.
"I think it's very important that we engage students by giving them an environment that they're accustomed to while outside of school," said Evelyn. "It's critical that we don't make them power down so they can have learning experiences that are engaging to them."
Software such as Imagine Learning was used for up to 30 minutes per day and Miller said the results could be seen by the end of the six weeks. Three groups of classroom teachers, special education teachers and teacher aides worked with the students throughout the summer and Miller praised their hard work and openness to new technologies such as the software.
"With at-risk kids the same-old, same-old is not good enough," said Miller. "They know that innovation has to be a part of their learning experience."
Miller said there are some kinks in the program that still need to be worked out, but the district is optimistic that the summer learning initiative will continue to help students improve their reading levels.
"We're very positive about this," he said.