Summer school has long been a requirement for failing kids to catch up but the city has been trying a new approach - using summer school so some kids don't fall behind. Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Seventh graders aren't known for giving each other compliments. But at MS 296 in the South Bronx, it's part of the summer school curriculum.
It's a special Department of Education program called Summer Quest that combines academics with social skills building, extra curricular activities, hands on projects and trips.
"We want to give students the opportunity to become better leaders and also to build on their self esteem," said Erica Flores, a social worker with Partnership with Children.
When Summer Quest began in 2012, it was for students at risk of forgetting during the summer what they learned during the school year. Studies show that low income students can lose up to three months of learning in what's called "summer slide."
Now the city is increasingly using the program as an alternative to traditional summer school for kids who've failed. Five days a week, from 8 AM to 4 PM, Summer Quest is far more intensive than traditional summer school, which is reading and math classes just four mornings a week.
"It doesn't make it seem like a traditional summer school, where they just here and they're just being beaten up because they didn't do well. This is actually fun. The learning has become fun for them," said Charlton Harry, a teacher at MS 296.
Half the 80 students attending Summer Quest at MS 296 failed last year and all of the students spend several hours working on reading and math. But with the help of the non-profit group Partnership with Children, they also go on field trips, do projects and have extra adults on hand, including a social worker in every classroom.
"We have more teachers so they could help us when we need help," said Omarion Keesley, a Summer Quest student.
The city says the program will serve 2,300 students and cost $3.2 million this year. But there isn't much data to judge whether all the extra support makes a difference - just survey results - which suggest parents, students and teachers are very happy to combine summer school with summer camp.