Summer school has begun for many districts, and now more than ever, the focus is on reading, especially in the elementary grades.
Children at Rosa Parks Elementary just finished up first grade, and now they're getting a head start on next year, with a month long summer school.
Though teacher Ranae Halderman covers all subjects, the majority of time is spent on reading.
According to the principal, about 75 percent of the students at Rosa Parks are behind grade level in reading. The plan is to catch them up with as much individualized instruction as possible.
"We know when kiddos come into the classroom they're not all the same cookie, so our job is really meeting them where they need to be," Halderman said.
There's increased emphasis on having children at grade level by third grade, now and summer schools are giving children more time to learn.
"What we know about most of the kids here is that they make great progress every year, but they may not make progress at the same speed as their peers," said Paige Lindemann.
Lindemann, the summer school principal, said a third of the students who were at Rosa Parks during the regular year came back for summer school; and she said she would have more than the 216 students if more money was available.
"We have a waiting list for summer school and we look first at children who need help with their reading, or, just who need a safe place in summer, and those kids come in first," Lindemann said.
Even students in first grade learn about fact and fiction and understanding genre in literature.
Many of the students started out behind because English isn't their native language, but they are advancing, and Halderman, the school's teacher of the year, is confident they'll be reading fine by third grade.