Eugene summer school programs address learning loss, boost esteem

Normally during the summer, schools sit empty, waiting for students to return. This summer, the halls of several schools are bubbling with chatter, laughter and salsa music as more than 1,600 Eugene students take extra courses.

Eugene School District 4J introduced a new summer school program with the intention of bridging the learning loss gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning.

The Summer Enrichment and Academic Learning Program uses non-standard learning methods to help get first- through eighth-grade students on track to succeed in their upcoming school year. About 600 students signed up for the 22-day program being held at three elementary schools: César E. Chávez, Holt and River Road.

“The kids all seem engaged, they all seem to be having fun with the different activities that are going on,” said Casandra Kamens, curriculum administrator for extended learning at 4J. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of sitting time for students. There’s a lot of hands-on work.”

An incoming second grader completes an English workbook at the Summer Enrichment and Academic Learning Program at César E. Chávez Elementary School on Monday, Aug.  1, 2022. The summer program is focused on addressing learning loss and getting students excited about school again.

The in-class time is balanced between teacher instruction and student projects that highlight areas of English language arts, math and science.

Kamens said that the district developed specific strategies to address learning loss in the curriculum, such as building phonics skills and reading skills, which have been lacking for many students after the pandemic. The SEAL Program also uses Math For Love, a tool that incorporates games into math problems, which the students and teachers have been enjoying.

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