PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur

April 28, 2014

PAISD program will aim to 'jumpstart' idle minds

PORT ARTHUR — “No more pencils, no more books.”

Although that adage is often repeated in jest, studies have revealed a much more sobering meaning behind it — students tend to regress academically during the summer months.

By fifth grade, students from low-income families may have fallen as many as two to three years behind their middle-class counterparts, due to less access to resources like a library card or museum trips.

This summer, the Port Arthur Independent School District will launch “Jumpstart,” a new program aimed at bridging that achievement gap by strengthening the reading, writing and mathematics skills of students in grades kindergarten through second grade.

“We know that if students don't continue to have access to stimulating activities during the summer, they may regress,” Kim Vine, chief education reform academic officer for PAISD’s elementary schools, said. “We see this as an ideal opportunity to do some reviewing initially, but also doing some previewing — for example, exposing second graders to what they will experience when they become third graders in just a few months.”

The program will run 8:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, from June 16 to Aug. 4. The district will select 250 students who have exhibited a need for improvement from each of the three grades. Kindergartners will report to DeQueen Elementary, with first graders at Sam Houston and second graders at Robert E. Lee Elementary.

While the program will integrate science and social studies concepts, it will primarily focus on reading and math comprehension. It is imperative to encourage reading comprehension as early as possible, PAISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said.

“We cannot wait until middle school or high school,” Porterie said. “If they can comprehend what they are reading, they can master any subject. Our job is to keep their minds engaged so that teachers will not have to spend so much time trying to catch up.”

Jumpstart will promote a hands-on approach to learning, complete with field trips to local museums such as the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Vine said the program will emphasize fine arts and physical education as well.

“A lot of things that our students have to deal with are at the abstract level, but we have to start at the concrete to move to the abstract,” Vine said. “We want them to get hooked on school.”

Parents are not required to pay tuition, Vine said. PAISD will provide transportation to and from the schools, as well as breakfast and lunch free of charge.

“We want the kids to be glad they showed up for school even though it’s summer,” she said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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