Summer school expands as interest picks up

New courses offer choices beyond remedial help

March 30, 2010

A quarter of the students attending Wauwatosa's two public high schools have provided feedback about their interests related to the school district's summer school program.

That information has been used by administrators to increase the number of class offerings for this coming summer and will guide the development of more courses for future years, said Beth Erhenberger, director of student learning.

High school students saw a five-question survey pop up when logging into their school computer accounts. Of the respondents, 18 percent planned to enroll in summer school courses to make up classes in which they did not perform well.

But a much larger population - 46 percent of those surveyed - want to earn extra credits or to complete a course to clear time in their fall schedules for electives.

Students want options

Survey results also revealed that students are most interested in seeing more math and science course options. The remedial aspect is covered, but there is a demand for accelerated learning in these subjects, Erhenberger said. Art and physical education courses also prove popular.

Economics is joining the lineup for high school students this summer because administrators became aware of about 10 students who had taken an online version to fulfill a financial literacy requirement. The Internet version costs families additional dollars, while summer school is free for Wauwatosa residents, Open Enrollment and Chapter 220 students.

The key is to make sure that whatever learning experiences are offered during the short summer semester carry the same instructional integrity as those offered during the traditional school year, administrators told the Wauwatosa School Board last week.

To that end, the class time for some for-credit classes will be extended by 30 minutes this summer, making them three hours long, said Washington Elementary School Principal Anthony Bonds, who is heading up the district's summer school program.

Variety, convenience key

The district has several goals for its summer program, specifically, to provide a large mix of learning opportunities, maximize student participation and make programs convenient for families.

"Want to make sure summer school is an opportunity for all students - not just those that need help," Bonds said.

On the convenience front, the district is partnering with the Recreation Department to provide before- and after-school programming.

Classes will be offered June 21 through July 30. Students will be split between the east campus of Wauwatosa East High School and Lincoln Elementary School and west campus of Wauwatosa West High School and Eisenhower Elementary School. This year, there will be closer supervision of students with building principals at each high school and deans of students overseeing the elementary buildings, Bonds said.

Summer school and Recreation Department program guides are available online, and registration will start at 8 a.m. April 24.

School Board members said they are happy to see the summer program continuing to grow, especially the opportunities for older students to earn credit, but they would like to have a better understanding of how big administrators want the program to get.

Vision for future needed

Board member Michael Meier suggested having an in-service to discuss expectations about the type of courses that should be offered, set goals for the student and teacher performance, and determine if the summer is a complement to the traditional school year or an extension of it.

Fellow board member Phil Kroner wasn't so sure that an in-service with board members involved was necessary. Rather, he suggested administrators work on a three- to five-year plan outlining their vision for the program.

"We've got a strong program, but it's lacking long-range plan," Kroner said.

Online courses could play into summer school in the future. Of the students surveyed, 65 percent said they are interested in seeing online summer school courses offered, Erhenberger said.

Board member Sharon Muehlfeld said she sees an Internet-based curriculum as a way students could take a class and still hold a summer job or take a family vacation that might otherwise keep them from enrolling.


The following classes are new additions to the Wauwatosa School District summer school offerings:

Grades K4-1: Great Art - students re-create the works of the masters in paint, ink and clay

Grades 1-6: Intro to Sign Language

Grades 2-3: Readers Café - designed to teach students to read for performances, with expression and appropriate phrasing

Grades 3-5: Author and Genre Book Club - targets the avid reader with socialization related to books; Jump Out of Your Seat Physics - provides experiments in sound, air and water properties; Project M3 - allows kids to act like mathematicians through simulations and data analysis

Grade 4: Beginning Band Blast Off - recommended for all kids joining band in fifth grade.

Grades 4-7: Food Fitness and Fun - explores making healthy food choices and introduces kids to new fitness activities

Grades 5-7: Through the Camera's Eye - movie making, digital photography and editing software; World Music Drumming and Xylophones - teaches about African and Caribbean culture through a hands-on curriculum.

Grades 9-11: Advanced Earth Science, Advanced Astronomy, economics


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