Data from the New York City Education Department suggest that there are fewer students required to attend summer school throughout the city's public school system this year compared to previous years. In addition, a lower percentage of students have been held back a grade since Bill de Blasio became mayor in 2014.
Department data maintains that around 19,000 students, or 6.2% of students between the third and eighth grades, needed to attend summer school this year in order to proceed to the next grade level. Across the previous five years, the average has been slightly higher, at 26,000, or 8.3% of students in that grade range.
The number of students who needed to be held back a grade has also seen a decline, from 2.5% in the 2012-13 school year to 1.2% in the 2013-14 school year. Students are held back if they fail summer school, writes Elizabeth Harris for The New York Times.
The drop directly correlates to a 2014 law stating that students in the third through eighth grades could not be held back primarily based on test scores. The tests will instead be used in conjunction with a number of other factors, reports Joe Tacopino for The New York Post. The new law states that principals and teachers will now be deciding which students would truly benefit from the extra month of schooling.
"In accordance with state law, school leaders are now looking closely at a student's progress throughout the entire year rather than at the end based on a single test," Devora Kaye, a department spokeswoman, said in an email.
The new law has caused the number of students needing the extra help that summer school offers to be reduced across the district by 57%. However, not everyone is happy about that, as some parents believe summer school offers a value to their children that they will no longer be receiving.
"It's a better program for him, and it's something that he needs so he can be successful," said one parent.
While the reduction in summer school enrollment would be accepted if students were performing better in the regular school year, recent data shows this to not be the case.
Last year saw only 29% of students in third through eighth grades pass the state reading exam, and just 35% pass the math exam. This year's results are not out yet, but are expected later this summer.
Meanwhile, thousands of high school students in the district are participating in summer school programs in an effort to catch up on credits, and tens of thousands of elementary and middle school students are expected to take part in free summer enrichment programs.