While it used to be that summer was that three month break from school for field work, it is now an
important learning time for students and a key professional development period for our teachers. The bad news is that the great recession and the lack of state funding have caused the District to decrease the size of the traditional summer school. The good news is that with the leadership of the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund (Ed Fund), there are additional opportunities for students to continue to learning when regular school is not in session. Teachers, too will be participating in numerous courses and programs to better prepare them for the new English Languages Arts adoption as well as for the Common Core State Standards.
The Ivy League Connection program has been an integral college awareness program in the West Contra Costa Unified School District for the last eight years. Each year students at our high schools participate in a rigorous screening process in order to gain acceptance into a summer program at an Ivy League university. The Ivy League Connection has grown tremendously over the years through the contributions of benefactors and corporations vested in providing educational opportunities for our students. This summer WCCUSD will be sending thirty-eight students to various Ivy League universities including Cornell University,
Columbia University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University and the “Ivy League of the South”: Vanderbilt University.
Another summer program, the Mathematics Achievement Academies (MAA) is also grant funded from Chevron and the Lesher Foundation. MAA is a summer bridge program for students entering 9th grade taking algebra, 10th grade taking geometry, and 11th grade taking algebra II. This summer more than 500 students will participate. A similar program will provide support in math for sixty 2013 graduates heading on to Contra Costa College and is supported by both Chevron and the College.
For students interested in science, the East Bay Academy for Young Scientists (EBAYS) challenge students to carry out actual science experiments. This program is supported by the Lawrence Hall of Science and is for students in grades 6 to 8. UC Berkeley also provides a summer program at Washington Elementary School for K-6 students and at UCB for middle and high school students. The Academic Talent Development Program has been operating for a number of years in WCCUSD and offers hands-on, project-based curriculum for students with high rates and levels of learning.
Led by the Ed Fund, the West Contra Costa Out of School Time Collaborative brought together
25 community organizations to improve the quantity and quality of summer learning experiences in our District. This year, the Ed Fund compiled, published and distributed the 2013 Get Your Summer On!
Activity Guide which provides everything for summer learning from a summer reading list to library programs, to information about a variety of programs in our area.
Last December the WCCUSD Board of Education adopted a new English Language Arts program for our K-6 schools called California Treasures, published by McGraw Hill. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the Treasures program will be a big change for our teachers who have used the Open Court program many years. Although training for teachers began in the early spring, there will be a number of summer Treasures professional development blocks for our elementary teachers. Training in the Common Core State Standards
will once again be an important focus of our summer learning programs for teachers and administrators. The District will also be providing training in the Bay Area Writing Project, Differentiated Instruction and English Language Development.
While we can’t offer all we’d like to in the summer, there are many programs and services that make summer a key learning time for students and staff.