Summer program focuses on LEAP remediation
Through the Webster Parish LEAP Summer Remediation Program, students who struggled to pass the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program test can receive remediation and a second chance to pass the test.
"Traditionally, the State Department of Education provided funding to conduct LEAP Summer Remediation classes and for retesting students," said Connie Busby, Webster Parish School Board Elementary Supervisor. "However, last summer state funding for this program was cut completely, yet the remediation program is mandated by BESE (State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education)."
School systems must now fund the program completely from Minimum Foundation Program dollars, commonly referred to as the general fund. Some of the 50 mandated hours of Summer LEAP Remediation can be offered before the regular school year is dismissed.
"In order to conserve some of these dollars, our schools offered 'bridging hours'," Busby said. "These hours were provided at both the fourth and eighth grade levels in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These hours are combined with summer hours to accumulate the necessary 50 hours."
Certified teachers are placed in every classroom and curriculum materials are purchased for students and teachers.
Classes are designed to assist students in passing the English Language Arts and Mathematics portions of the LEAP test, which are the parts of the test that students must pass in order to promote to the next grade.
Transportation costs for Summer LEAP Remediation, which were at one time paid by the State Department of Education are now absorbed by the school system's general fund.
Students are provided bus transportation to and from remediation sites from major pick-up points throughout the parish.
"In spite of budget constraints, the Webster Parish School system is committed to providing a quality Summer LEAP Remediation program," Busby said.
Busby said she feels it is important to provide this service to students to give them another chance to pass the LEAP test, which will allow them to progress to the next grade.
"Many students are close and need only a few more points to put them over the passing mark," Busby said. "They can do this with the intensive remediation provided during this month."
For the 2011 school year, there are 331 students in grades four and eight who are eligible to participate in the LEAP remediation program.
"Not all of these students attend and some only come for the last three days to retest," Busby said, noting that students are not required to attend remediation classes in order to retest.
"The State Department of Education also provides various waivers that students who are close to passing may be eligible for," Busby said. "But, they must attend summer remediation in order to be eligible for any type of waiver.
"Last school year we had 419 students eligible," she continued. "Because we have fewer students this year, we also have five fewer classes this year compared to last school year."
Busby said this can be attributed to more passing scores on this year's LEAP test and equates to a lower operational cost for the program.
This year's program runs from May 25 through June 27. Students that attend will have the opportunity to retest for LEAP June 28 through 30.
Scores will be released to students and parents within a few days of the beginning of the new school year in August.
Classes are also provided at the high school level to assist students who must retake the GEE or the Algebra EOC test.