Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn visited Trousdale County on Monday morning, visiting the ongoing summer learning camps as part of a statewide tour.
The Accelerating TN 2021 Tour is covering 50 school districts over three weeks to highlight summer learning opportunities. Department members, elected officials, and education partners are getting a firsthand look at how schools are accelerating student achievement.
During the Tennessee General Assembly’s legislative session in January, legislators passed the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act, which set forward a path for all districts’ current and future summer programming opportunities to benefit students. In addition, this summer districts and schools are in the process of planning how to spend their portions of federal COVID-19 relief and recovery funding flowing — about $4.2 million for K-12 education in Tennessee — to accelerate student achievement.
Director of Schools Clint Satterfield praised all teaching staff that are participating in the summer program and singled out team leaders Kellie Porter and Landon Gulley, who are respectively heading up the ELA and Math portions of the curriculum.
“We looked to them to lead our summer learning camps. We were concerned about our principals — having come out of a COVID year, getting ready for five days a week instruction — fatiguing them out. We used this as an inspire leader training and have hired them both as assistant principals.”
Schwinn and her entourage, which included Sen. Ferrell Haile and former House Speaker Bill Dunn — visited a first-grade ELA class and a sixth-grade math class while at the elementary school.
“Across the state, I’ve been impressed with how personal the districts have taken it. Every program looks a little bit different, as it should. I saw here great practices like high-dosage tutoring, smaller class sizes and a lot of fun. Students are having a great time and the tour’s really about celebrating teachers and students for their hard work.
Schwinn said going into next year, the extra planning time would allow districts to identify practices that worked and areas for improvement. The summer camps are optional this year and in 2022, and will become mandatory in 2023 for students who are not reading on grade level.
Satterfield said 212 students were taking part in this year’s program, and that 90% of them have attended at least 90% of the time. The participation rate of roughly 25% is slightly below the state’s goal of 30%, but Schwinn said she was not concerned with it being the first year of summer camps.
“It fluctuates. We’re higher in elementary and a little bit lower at the middle school, but it varies district to district. I think for this first year, the kids who really need to be here are here. We’re learning what’s going to continue to enhance this. What I’m hearing here is it’s doing a lot to enhance their academic achievement and growth, and enjoying school,” she said.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.