Summer classes have started at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) with the district offering various programs to meet the needs of students.
The district will continue its traditional summer programs but also work in partnership with The Mind Trust to offer a summer program that combines traditional classes with enrichment programs.
“Traditionally, summer school was meant as a time for students to repeat a class to improve their grades,” said Jessica Dunn, executive director of enrichment programs for IPS. “However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we found that some students need additional educational programming to help them succeed.
“We believe that many students will improve their academics by taking traditional summer classes when they can review and then better retain with more intense one-on-one instruction,” she said. “But, others may want a combination of traditional classes combined with enrichment opportunities – like a summer camp.”
IPS is running three different summer programs, including hosting high school credit recovery at all direct-managed high schools. This is an opportunity for enrichment, recovery, and course acceleration for high school students.
The district is also providing a summer bridge program for all rising ninth grade students at each of the four direct-managed high schools. This is an opportunity for students to learn about the routines and procedures of each high school, receive their schedule, get a preview of some high school coursework, and learn the importance of staying on track.
New Summer School Program
IPS is also partnering with The Mind Trust to operate the Indy Summer Learning Labs at four elementary schools. The labs provide summer school and enrichment for rising first through eighth grade students.
The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, is providing the district with some funding for students who attend IPS summer school and are providing the curriculum resource guides as well as curriculum professional development for district staff. staff, created afternoon lessons, purchased curriculum resources, and recruited and signed up students.
“We believe our students will find the five-week sessions, which run through the week of July 22, very enjoyable,” Dunn said. “Each week we will have a different theme for the enrichment programming time. It is up to each site to determine the order of the themes. The themes are nature, sports, water, super heroes, around the world, and Disney. We want kids to be energized about coming to summer school and know that our after-school enrichment activities will be a great hook to keep them engaged and coming to school.”
Dunn noted that the programs are designed to close the learning gaps suffered by some children as a result of the pandemic.
“IPS has certainly made huge gains in academics in 2021-22 and we are back to where we were before the pandemic,” she said. “We do see that some of our students need help on math and literacy instruction, which will be the focus in the morning sessions of the learning labs. We believe our students will make strong strides this summer and be prepared for classes to begin in early August.”
Online Option for After-School Programming
Starting in the fall, IPS students and their families will have access to after-school and extracurricular activities, thanks to a partnership with AfterSchool HQ, an Indianapolis-based education company.
IPS will implement AfterSchool HQ’s online platform in schools throughout the district. The site will give parents direct access to more extracurricular options and a centralized location for community organizations to promote their programs.
Dunn believes the partnership will be a major transformation for the district. “I think it will be huge simply because more students will have after-school activities and enrichment programming,” she said. “After-school programming varies significantly across the district and students often only participate if their parents can afford it. We are excited about our families having these types of opportunities at no cost.”