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Summer learning - Program aims to boost scores

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By Mercy Lopez

Several dozen students at Sierra Vista Elementary are spending a few weeks during their summer vacation getting extra time in the classroom.  The K-3 Plus Extended School Year Program started earlier this month and will run until Aug. 9 at the east side elementary school.

“These kids are getting five more weeks of instruction in language arts and mathematics,” program instructor Brock Aragon said. “This program began with the state Public Education Department funding it in areas in need.”

Aragon said the elementary school received the funding because many students who attend the school are low income and because test scores showed a need for extra instructional time. He said staff have been working with students in an effort to bring up standard based assessment scores.

The school recently received an “F” in the state’s school report card grading system. The previous school year, Sierra Vista received a “D” grade.

“According to PED, kids that have participated in this program have had an increase in their scores,” Aragon said. “This is the first year this program has been held at Sierra Vista Elementary.”

The program mainly concentrates on literacy and math instruction. Students have a 120- minute reading block followed by a recess. Then they have their math block followed by lunch. In the afternoon, the students go swimming at the Abe Montoya Recreation Center for the health and physical education component of the program.

“The program focuses on language arts as a whole, including phonics, phonetic awareness, reading, grammar, fluency and comprehension,” Aragon said. “In mathematics, we are trying to reach common core areas in need.”

Roughly 55 students in first, second and third grade are participating in the free extended year program, which runs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.  to 2:40 p.m.

“The third-grade students concentrate on multiplication and division,” Aragon said. “In second grade they are concentrating on double-digit subtraction and addition. The first-grade students are learning how to do addition and subtraction.”

Aragon said he hopes the program will help raise the test scores and provide students with much needed knowledge in language arts, math, health and physical education.