CCSD hosts summer literacy camp

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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Though the summer sun is at its height this July, Chambers County School District has once again been hard at work getting students ready for next year with the Summer Literacy Camp. 

“The camp has been successful,” said Sheila Jones, director of Curriculum and Instruction K-8. “… Overall, we do see improvement in our students that attended camp.”

The literacy camp is meant to help bridge the gap in student proficiency, working toward the Alabama Numeracy Act and the Alabama Literacy Act. The program has been funded by the district’s ESSER funds, emergency funds from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“The two-fold focus is on reading and math deficiencies,” Jones said. 

The two acts require that students meet a certain level of proficiency before moving on to the next grade level. For the Literacy Act, students are required to meet grade-level standards by third grade or they will need intervention. 

The team meets to determine what materials to use to best address these needs in the school district, Jones said. 

For the math focus, the camp incorporates lessons and activities like number talks, problem-solving, math journaling and math games to help build skills. 

As for the reading focus, the students work on areas like phonics, phonemic awareness, some writing, fluency and sight words. The camp addresses all the areas that are in the Alabama Literacy Act.

For some students, Jones said they hope to close the gap during the summer camp, while others will continue to get support and intervention throughout the school year during the school day. 

“We expect them to continue to flourish, and we’re supporting them when they get back in school in the fall. It’s obviously not camp, but we’re supporting them during the school day with intervention.

Students in the district took the STAR test, a district assessment test. Those children who did not benchmark on the STAR test were invited to the camp, according to Jones. 

If the children previously scored level one or level two on the ACAP test, a state assessment, in reading or math, they were invited as well. 

Students who didn’t pass the reading-only portion of the ACAP test will retake the ACAP supplemental test after summer camp. If they still don’t pass the test in the summer, then all hope is not necessarily lost. 

“The third thing is we’ve kept a third-grade portfolio, and that portfolio would have to show that you made at least a 70% on the assessments that are connected with the standards that the state chose to say that the children have to pass,” Jones said. 

After looking at the third-grade portfolio, the school district also has to look at what the state Board of Education calls “good cause exemptions.” Good cause exemptions inspect four assessments; if the student has retained before, if they’ve been receiving support, if they have a 504 Plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or if they are an English Language Learner (ELL) student who has been in the country for less than three years.

A 504 Plan is designed to assist students with a disability while an IEP is a program for students who require specialized instruction services. 

Though ESSER funds will run out in Sept. 30, Jones said they hope to continue the camp by sourcing new funds. However, the fate of the program is unclear at the moment.