© 2024 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Summer Intensive Studies Wraps Up In Okaloosa County

  Although it’s almost time to head back to school, some area students never left. A number of students in Okaloosa County spent much of the break attending the summer intensive studies program (SIS), more commonly known as summer school. 

The Summer Intensive Studies  program is offered at every level, but for elementary schools students solely in the subject areas of math and reading. Ten elementary schools participated as host sites.

Jon Williams, Principal at Shalimar Elementary, which hosts students from Shalimar, Longwood, and Eglin Elementary schools says the elementary school SIS program includes some computer-based learning, but is focused more on traditional instruction, "Right now, just as an average to give you an idea it’s a 12 to 1 ratio of students to teacher and we have about seven classes with anywhere from 1-3 sections in that grade level."

The focus and criteria for elementary school students is based more on retention due to low grades and assessment scores rather than grade recovery as is the case in secondary schools. Williams says that students are typically grouped together by grade level while in SIS and are considered retained pending the outcome of the program, "We try to do it by grade level, there are a few places where we have to have combination classes like say  with that 12:1 ratio that perhaps where we do have a 4th and 5th combination. That works usually because the standards are fairly similar of what they need to do, especially to be promoted."

The SIS program is also available to high school and middle school students in the county that are lacking credits in the core areas of study. Some students are in danger of not being promoted to the next grade level or graduating all together and should view the program as an opportunity to move ahead.  At this level, SIS is offered through a computer based learning program called E 20/20. It’s offered for 5 ½ hours daily during the months of June and July at six high schools and nine middle schools throughout the district.

Dr. Lee Hale, Principle at Meigs Middle School, says that there is no state funding available to run a conventional summer school program for these grade levels. So, the district decided to offer the more cost effective computer program to fill the need, " Students are able to move at their own pace, get finished as soon as they can and with a very limited amount of human instructors in the classroom they are able to demonstrate mastery over a particular standards via these computer tests that they take and anything they do not score well on there is some computer based remediation within the program that kind of gets them where they need to be."

Core subjects offered include science, social studies, math and language arts, and are geared toward each student’s specific grade level. The program is designed to help students recover material they might have missed during the school year by allowing them to pre-test on topics without having the burden of re-demonstrating skills they're already successful at.

Dr. Hale says that although SIS is self taught and self paced, a faculty facilitator is present at all times in the class room to help trouble shoot problems and guide the students, " It takes a certain person to make a program like this work effectively so not only are the kids learning and recovering but also moving through it. It takes a very understanding and patient person, that’s a little bit savvy and also has a wide range of academic skills to assist with. Here at Meigs we have the right people in place."

The SIS program is funded by Okaloosa County School District. Dr. Hale says it’s a way to offer students a second chance to redeem a loss during the school year, "I believe every educator and every administrator in this district really has a heart for kids and we’re doing eveything we can to not only be their instructor but have a relationship so that maybe we can get ahead of some of these things before it’s too late."

More information about the Okaloosa County School District is available on line at OkaloosaSchools.com.

Monday, August 18th is the first day of school for most students in Northwest Florida, including those in Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties.