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Education Leaders Say Summer Program To Help W.Va. Students Get Ahead Was A Success

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The West Virginia Department of Education says a program that helped K-8 students with learning loss and social-emotional support last summer was a success.

The state’s Summer SOLE program was launched last summer as a way to help kids find their footing in school again following the impacts of remote and virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Summer SOLE, which stands for Student Opportunities for Learning and Engagement, ran from May 30 to Aug. 13. It was in-person and at 476 sites across the state.

West Virginia Board of Education members were presented with a breakdown of data Wednesday during the board’s monthly meeting.

The department of education reported that Summer SOLE was used by 54 of the state’s 55 counties. It was attended regularly by 80 percent of students statewide and saw high levels of student engagement – at 92 percent.

The report found that overall, more than 64 percent of K-8 students either maintained or made gains in English Language Arts, while 59 percent maintained or saw gains in math.

“It was different than a typical summer school,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch told board members. “[Students] seemed more engaged. We saw students that wanted to be there.”

Burch said making the program different from traditional summer school was key to its success.

Some teachers, however, did report feeling overwhelmed and rushed into the program without much time to prepare. Some also said they had low engagement from students.

Summer SOLE is expected to be available again next year, and teachers have requested more time for planning and more staff.

More than $32 million federal COVID-relief dollars were put aside by the West Virginia Department of Education for Summer SOLE. There’s more than $10 million remaining for next year.

Webmaster/Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief/Part-time Education Reporter/Producer, emccormick@wvpublic.org, 304-876-9313, @LizMcCormickWV

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