Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland has opened summer school registration, but only select students based on academic performance will be invited to attend. The move marks a return to pre-pandemic times, focusing on students most impacted by the pandemic. Last year, any interested student could register, but this year, the program is invitation-only. The criteria used to determine eligibility include math and English report card grades, state assessments, and participation in math or literacy interventions. MCPS spokesperson Jessica Baxter said that 8,100 students in first through eighth grade and high schoolers based on graduation requirements will be invited to attend.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has opened registration for its summer school program, but this year, the invitation is only extended to select students based on academic performance. In light of the recent report by Jessica Baxter, an MCPS spokesperson, the district is shifting back to a pre-pandemic model that focuses on the most highly impacted students.
Last year, any interested student could register for summer school, which was made possible through $387.2 million of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. However, the funds are now “winding down” as the district enters its third and final year under ESSER. This year, registration for all summer school programs will be made available by invitation only.
MCPS has invited a total of 8,100 students in first through eighth grade to attend summer school, while the program will be open to high school students based on graduation requirements. The eligibility criteria include math and English report card grades, state assessments, participation in math or literacy interventions, and scoring on a basic literacy skill test called the DIBELS assessment for elementary level students.
However, MCPS parent and licensed children’s neuropsychologist Jennifer Reesman expressed concerns about how the school district is allocating its ESSER funds to address learning loss. She described funding summer school as “low-hanging fruit” and said that last year, summer school was underutilized for the kids who needed it. She believes that there hasn’t been clear communication about the shift in criteria.
In light of the recent report by Baxter, the district is still concerned about staffing for special education. Over the summer, MCPS offers a program called the Extended School Year (ESY), which is exclusively for students receiving special education services. However, the district shifted the ESY program to virtual last year due to a lack of adequate staffing.
To tie it all together, MCPS’s decision to make its summer school program invitation-only based on academic performance has sparked controversy. While some parents and educators believe that it will help the most highly impacted students, others worry about students who may need the program but do not meet the eligibility criteria. As the district enters its final year under ESSER, it remains to be seen how it will continue to address learning loss moving forward.