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City Sees 25 Percent Drop in Students Required to Attend Summer School

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The de Blasio administration has been focused on increasing the amount of time students spend in school, through universal pre-k, expanded after-school and other policy changes, but one of the mayor's new policies inadvertently produced the exact opposite result. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It's summer school time, ideally a chance for tens of thousands of students who've fallen behind to get help catching up.

"It was best for him to come to summer school and fix the problems, so I'm actually happy that he's in summer school," said Maria Rodriguez, the mother of one summer school student.

"If it's benefiting him, helping him, I'm all for it," said Kala Taylor, the mother of another summer school student.

This year, it's an experience fewer students will have, about 10,000 fewer than City Hall had predicted and planned for.

In 2011, 34,000 elementary- and middle-school students were sent to summer school. In 2012, it was 33,000. Last year, it was more than 35,100. But this year, just 24,000 students were required to attend summer classes, a 25 percent drop.

This comes after the de Blasio administration changed the way students are selected. Under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the lowest-performing students on state tests were required to attend summer school or repeat a grade. Now, the decision is left up to teachers and principals, based on students' work over the course of the school year.

The Department of Education had insisted that although the process changed, the overall number of students in summer school would remain similar, about 10 percent of the general education population. Instead, schools only recommended about 7.4 percent.

Since NY1 first learned the actual numbers earlier this week, the DOE and chancellor have repeatedly insisted the new policy worked as they'd expected.

When NY1 asked Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña about the change on Tuesday, she said, "Last year was an anomaly." But that's not accurate. The numbers last year were similar to those in the two previous years.

She also said, "Last year, the students only had to go to summer school for two weeks, take a test and drop out." That's also not accurate. There was no test two weeks in and no option to drop out.

What is true is that the unexpected drop in summer school attendance does not fit with the de Blasio administration's prioritizes, which have centered around expanding the time needy students spend in school.

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