The end of the 2014–15 school year will feel more like the beginning of a new one for third-grade students at Springville Elementary School.
Springville’s third grade will be participating in a new pilot program called Jump-Start June. In the new program, third-grade students at Springville will begin to learn fourth-grade material prior to leaving school for summer break.
The pilot program will have the Springville third grade jump into the first unit for fourth-grade reading. The students will receive a copy of the book “Because of Winn Dixie.” They will then receive a packet to complete during the summer, which will be returned to their fourth-grade teacher when school re-opens next September.
Marie Reynolds, director of communication services for Mt. Laurel Schools, said the Springville third-grade students will complete the packet for “Because of Winn Dixie” in place of their normal summer reading packet.
“For this group, ‘Winn Dixie’ will replace that packet,” she said. “It’s a little bit more comprehensive than students are normally asked.”
The packet will include numerous questions about the book and will test students’ mathematics, problem solving, critical thinking and new vocabulary.
“The hope is that our fourth-grade teachers should be able to hit the ground running by knowing what skills have been mastered in the packet that is returned,” Superintendent Antoinette Rath said.
The district is starting the program in hopes of making the best possible use of time at the end of the school year. Traditionally, the final weeks of school are used to clean up classrooms, pack up books and wrap up any final projects.
“We always looked at June as among the best of times in education,” Rath said. “What better time to open the mind and learn than when the sun is shining and the schedule is less hectic?”
“We’re just trying to really maximize classroom time,” Reynolds said.
The program goes beyond learning new material. The third graders will also be introduced to their fourth-grade teacher in June. The teachers will visit each third-grade classroom to introduce the project to the students.
“When they get this packet and they get the book, the fourth-grade teachers will be going into the room and telling them their expectations in September,” Reynolds said. “It’s exciting for them to have this introduction to the new teacher.”
The program has been put together thanks to the efforts of both third- and fourth-grade teachers at Springville.
“This is something the teachers have put together themselves collaboratively,” Reynolds said.
Third-grade parents at Springville will receive a letter describing the program in detail prior to June. The district is hoping the program will allow fourth-grade teachers to hit the ground running with students having continued to grow their skills.
The effectiveness of the pilot program will be determined from a variety of student growth data. If the program proves beneficial, it could be rolled out to new schools, grade levels and subjects in the future.