Jefferson City Public Schools is trying some new things with its summer school program, and has made a decision on its high school social studies curriculum for next year.
As of the district's Board of Education meeting May 13, JCPS Chief of Learning Brian Shindorf said the district had about 3,100 students enrolled for summer school, out of a goal of 3,400.
At the same time last year, Shindorf said about 3,000 were enrolled, and that rose to 3,400 by the time summer school started.
He said last year's themed approach for the different elementary grade levels is returning this year.
"It seemed popular. We got a lot more of our own staff who were willing to come in and teach summer school for us. We didn't have to hire a lot of externals," and teachers liked that the themes were designed for them, Shindorf said.
Themes this year include an animal safari for first-graders and a "secret spy school" for fourth-graders.
Shindorf outlined new changes to summer school that have been designed to provide more support to students and monitor the progress they make over the summer.
Shindorf said schools would have behavior interventionists to help support students who struggle with social skills.
He also said pre- and post-summer school assessments of K-5 students would determine if their reading improved, and students in grades 6-8 would have their reading skills progress monitored by the iReady program that the district uses.
"We also are going to increase the support for STEM activities" by giving teachers more resources that they won't have to buy themselves for science, technology, engineering and math activities, Shindorf said.
Earlier in the school board meeting, Shindorf also told the Board of Education that JCPS has scrapped the idea to eliminate world history as a social studies requirement for its high school students.
The plan presented at last month's board meeting had been to make world history an elective and replace the required social studies credit with students' choice of either a Missouri Studies course or an Integrated Missouri Studies course that would have incorporated an English class.
Either course would have taught students about Missouri history and would include a required test on students' knowledge of the Missouri Constitution.
Push back from the school board led to the district's K-12 curriculum for next year being approved last month without the Missouri Studies proposal, though.
Shindorf said last week that since then, social studies teachers proposed that students would have the choice of taking either a world history course or an integrated world history course.
He added U.S. history and government teachers were also comfortable incorporating into their classes state standards that would have been in the Missouri Studies options.
Shindorf said starting with the coming school year, freshmen will be required to take world history; sophomores, U.S. history; and juniors, U.S. government.