Board members were eager to see the final numbers of the fall intersession after viewing a presentation highlighting the week, which took place from Oct. 10-14, at the October Board of Education meeting. “One of our goals is to get our students reading and math scores up, and we looked at the intersession as a way to do that,” said board member Stephanie McCall.
The intersession was beneficial for the students who attended, but board members showed concerns about whether the week was cost effective due to low participation numbers. The intersession was available to all students and the school system encouraged parents to become involved, but only about 400 students attended the interession on any given day, which amounts to about 10 percent of the entire district’s student population. “From the early figures, it looks like we had almost 10 percent of students in the county take advantage of the intersession opportunity,” said Vice-Chairman Jim Breedlove. According to Breedlove, he is currently waiting until a comprehensive report is developed to determine the cost analysis of the intersession and to compare it to the educational benefit actually provided to the students who took advantage of the week.
According to the presentation, which can be viewed on the school district’s website, the total of attendances for the week was 2015. That figure reflects the number of attendances, not the number of individual students who participated in the intersession. The average daily attendance was 403, and considering the majority of the students who attended the intersession did so each day, only about 400 total individual students participated.
Each school site had a specialized plan on how to utilize the intersession to the fullest for individual targeted students. The plan was developed by the school’s principal and was offered throughout the intersession period for all individuals willing to participate. Transportation was provided to all students, and depending on the time frame of each individual school’s intersession schedule, breakfast and lunch or a brunch was also provided.
According to Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, funding for the intersession was made possible through “At-Risk” and tutoring monies provided to Macon County through State and Federal funds. Because the intersession block concept was so new, an estimated cost for the intersession was not predetermined, nor was money allocated for it before hand.
According to Angie Cook, Finance Director for the school system, the finance department is currently developing a comparison study to determine the cost of intersession vs. the cost of what is typically spent on summer school and extended day (learning centers and Saturday schools).
“I do not know all of the costs associated with the intersession yet, and I am waiting to get those figures,” said McCall, “I am waiting to see those things because we have to be very catious how we spend our money. We need to do so to ensure that we get the most out of our money.”
Board member Gary Shields expressed his concern regarding the financial sustainability of the intersession with other programs currently being implemented in the district. Shields noted that principals have begun asking for additional teachers to be trained in the Lindamood-Bell Learning Process and he doesn’t believe that it is possible to fund both programs. “You have to look at it as a business,” said Shields.
The Macon County School System designated two intersession blocks for the 2011-2012 school year, which were intended to explore defined programs to help students who do not meet academic targets on local and state assessments. Students who fail to meet the target goals are identified through the Personalized Education Plan, which is implemented all year but strongly encourages intervention during the intersessions.
The intersession blocks were made possible when the school district adopted a “non-traditional” school calendar. Although other reasons were identified for the “non-traditional” calendar, one of the primary purposes for implementing it at each school site was an attempt to provide timely interventions and accelerated learning opportunities for students identified as at-risk populations, enable targeted high school students to receive credit recovery and remedial opportunities in core content areas, and improve student success with Career and College Readiness initiatives— ultimately increasing the comprehensive graduation rate.
Cartoogechaye Elementary School had 11 teachers participate in and utilize the intersession to increase student comprehension through vocabulary development by increasing background knowledge in reading and social studies content areas. On average, Cartoogechaye had about 15 students attend the intersession to take advantage of the remediation and enrichment activities, including field trips into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Mountain Museum and Mingus Mill, were integrated throughout the week. Students were given the opportunity to take part in hands-on learning activities to increase vocabulary and overall general knowledge which were later tied directly into the off-site learning experiences.
Mon 10/10 — 31 Thr 10/13 — 5
Tue 10/11 — 17 Fri 10/14 — 12
Wed 10/12 — 13 Total — 78
East Franklin Elementary School had an average of seven teachers and about 21 students per day participate in the intersession, which was specialized with a dual focus. On October 10 and 14 students took place in enrichment activities to increase their knowledge and understanding in areas of reading, science and social studies. Students were involved in community-based learning experiences which focused on the history of Franklin, local government, the geography of the area and local wildlife conservation efforts. Remediation groups were conducted for students on October 11, 12 and 13. The groups were formed based on individual student assessment data and included Lindamood-Bell intervention groups for decoding and comprehension strategies. The students that did not participate in the remediation were exposed to variety of activities including multi-media research and integration of technology.
Mon 10/10 — 24 Thr 10/13 —23
Tue 10/11 — 23 Fri 10/14 — 12
Wed 10/12 — 26 Total 108
The average of about 83 Franklin High School students per day to attend the intersession were given the opportunity to engage in PSAT prep classes and to take the PAST. Students were also allowed to make up class time due to absences, to recover credit/grades for classes in which they were struggling and to receive additional tutoring in core content areas required for graduation.
Mon 10/10 — NA Thr 10/13 — 106
Tue 10/11 — 143 Fri 10/14 — NA
Wed 10/12 — 165Total 414
The unique K-12 structure of Highlands School had seven teachers involved in implementing the intersession which offered students a variety of intersession activities specific to their grade level and individual need. On average, about 33 students attened the intersession each day and were able to partake in enrichment activities— including trips to the Biltmore House, Highlands Biological Center, and Brevard College — that were available with the purpose of providing meaningful experiences to enhance curriculum areas of reading, social studies, science, and language arts.
Board member McCall, who has a daughter enrolled at Highlands, used the intersession as an oppotunity to travel and partake in educational activities as a family. Students in grades 3-8 participated in reading remediation on Oct 11, 12, and 13. “One of the most beneficial activites during the intersession at Highlands was the opportunity for High School students to be involved in the PSAT,” said McCal. Students were able to take math and Verbal Prep Classes, PSAT Test, ITV College Calculus.
The athletic director was available to supervise students while in the gymnasium for physical activities.
Mon 10/10 — 69 Thr 10/13 — 23
Tue 10/11 — 36 Fri 10/14 — 0
Wed 10/12 — 38 Total 166
Iotla Valley had 10 staff members and a daily average of 40 students on hand during the intersession with the purposes: (1) to provide remediation in reading for grades 1-4; (2) to provide remediation in math for grades 3-4; (3) to provide opportunities for in-depth and challenging learning experiences for all students. Reading remediation was focused on addressing specific reading skill deficits based on individual student assessment through the use of research based interventions in small Early Literacy Groups. Math remediation was also implemented in small groups using research-based math interventions, with students rotating daily through four learning stations. The more advanced students participated in community-based projects which focused on researching the history of the community schools in the area before integrating their research into technology in order to develop presentations.
Mon 10/10 — 42 Thr 10/13 — 36
Tue 10/11 — 43 Fri 10/14 — 39
Wed 10/12 — 38 Total 198
On average, almost 53 Macon Early College students attended the intersession each day and were provided the opportunity to visit and explore post secondary schools within the state which included Warren Wilson, Montreat, Appalachian Sate University, Lees McRay, Mars Hill and Brevard.
Mon 10/10 — 73 Thr 10/13 — 47
Tue 10/11 — 58 Fri 10/14 — 3
Wed 10/12 — 82 Total 263
Macon Middle School had 10 teachers who implemented the designed activities for the average of about 36 students a day with activities intended to give students opportunities for enrichment and remediation in both small group instructional settings, and through project-based experiential opportunities. Language arts and math were areas of targeted intervention and enrichment.
Specific areas of focus in language arts were vocabulary, identifying root words, identifying the main idea in a passage, basic reading comprehension strategies, and understanding and using figurative language. A focus on writing assisted students in applying the steps for producing a final product starting with the planning phase and ending with publishing. These strategies were embedded within the context of ELA standards: contrasting prose and poetry, understanding vocabulary, recognizing the importance of literary devices, and understanding cause and effect. Based on student assessment data, the math remediation focused on improving student understanding and application of multiplication and division of integers.
Various projects applied throughout the intersession included Shakespeare’s Hamlet video production, Edgar Allen Poe life and writings, poem publication, juggling, The H,L, Hundly-a nonfiction Civil War Story. Integration of technology incorporated computer labs, development of Powerpoint Presentations, and iPad technology. In addition, students that needed diagnostic assessment for placement into Lindamood-Bell Learning groups were scheduled for testing so that groups could begin the week after intersession.
Mon 10/10 — 40 Thr 10/13 — 35
Tue 10/11 — 37 Fri 10/14 — 29
Wed 10/12 — 41 Total 182
Mountain View Intermediate School had 10 staff members who focused on community-based learning experiences to provide the framework for the intersession activities which was offered to an average of 70 students per day who attended. Students participated in a variety of experiences off the school campus that addressed content in the STEM areas. Hiking excursions incorporated key components of math, geography, and science concepts as well as engineering and learning to use a compass. Social studies concepts were addressed through visits to local government agencies and businesses. Students engaged in specific activities that were intended to concentrate on social and communication skills. In the classroom, students applied the information they gathered during off-site activities for persuasive and expository writing exercises, math applications including graphing, analyzing statistics, applied math, and creative projects such as creating maps, developing a scavenger hunt and making trail mix. Various kinds of technology were applied to the classroom application activities.
Mon 10/10 — 76 Thr 10/13 — 70
Tue 10/11 — 73 Fri 10/14 — 59
Wed 10/12 — 72 Total 350
Since Nantahala School is a K-12 school, various remedial and acceleration opportunities were designed to meet the needs of each individual age group of the daily average of about 17 students who attended. Activities were designed to create an exciting and differentiated learning environment for students in need of remediation, with flexible scheduling to accommodate student needs. Reading, math and science concepts were addressed through hands on learning activities, educational games and one on one instruction for struggling students. For the older students, enrichment activities included traveling to the Renaissance Faire in Charlotte and Drake Enterprises for demonstrations of hands-on computer engineering and technology at work. In addition, students engaged in a variety of community service activities, adult mentoring, peer tutoring with high schools students working with younger students, and job shadowing. After the intersession, administration saw improved student academic performance, increased general knowledge for students, and an increase in social and cultural awareness. In addition, students that needed diagnostic assessment for placement into Lindamood- Bell Learning groups were scheduled for testing so that groups could begin the week after intersession, and the teachers who were being trained for the assessment process had valuable time for observation and to be mentored in the assessment process.
Mon 10/10 — 33 Thr 10/13 — 8
Tue 10/11 — 26 Fri 10/14 — 0
Wed 10/12 — 19 Total 86
South Macon Elementary had 13 staff members and a daily average of about 28 students who attended the intersession. Staff members incorporated reading remediation which focused on students in grades 1 and 2. Individual assessment data was utilized to determine specific skill deficits of students and to group them for small group intensive research- based instruction. Enrichment opportunities were provided to students in grades 3 and 4.
The focus of these learning experiences was exploring the natural resources of the area, and then integrating the knowledge back into the academic setting. In addition, specialized groups were in place for students with moderate to severe disabilities and ESL students.
Mon 10/10 — 23 Thr 10/13 — 29
Tue 10/11 — 30 Fri 10/14 — 25
Wed 10/12 — 31 Total 138
Union Academy had an average of six students attend the intersession, all of which had the opportunity to focus on planning life after high school. Students chose careers of interest to explore in depth, which included a job shadowing experience. They were then able to think about the courses they will need to take in high school that align with specific careers, explore what post secondary education would be required, and determine where job opportunities are within different careers.
Mon 10/10 — 5 Thr 10/13 — 8
Tue 10/11 — 8 Fri 10/14 — 4
Wed 10/12 — 7 Total 32
AIG Institutes had two specific opportunities available for students that have been identified as Academically/ Intellectually Gifted. Six students at MVI participated in an iPad session in which they learned about various applications. The session included an introduction to using iPads that involved Apple tutorials. Students also explored regional ghost stories and had a brain teaser competition. Five MMS students participated in a weeklong session focused on genealogy and immigration. They read a book about immigration, did research on an immigrant of interest, and visited local historical sites. The week resulted in a Powerpoint developed by each student using a program called Audacity, to record their Powerpoints’ narrations - similar to the oral histories available at the Library of Congress.