In its second year at Union R-XI, Catapult Learning’s Summer Journey program saw more students enrolling in and completing the summer school term.

The summer session, for preschool through eighth-grade students, started with 1,158 students this year, 43 more than last year. Enrolled students appeared to stay in for the long haul in larger numbers as well, according to the district. The session ended with 1,023 students, 83 more than last year.

“We had more students this year than we had last year in the beginning and in the end,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Scott Hayes. “Our numbers actually went up.”

Hayes said increasing numbers during the summer session, after an enormous spike in enrollment from the first summer of the Summer Journey, is welcomed good news. 

“Anytime you talk about over 1,000 kids in summer school, that’s good news,” Hayes said. “We’ve been very pleased and it’s (Summer Journey) been a good thing for Union R-XI.”

In early 2017, the school board approved a partnership with Catapult Learning, looking to create incentives for Union students to attend summer school.

Those incentives award students $100 for missing no days of summer school, $75 for missing only one day and $50 for missing no more than two days.

The Summer Journey program offers classes ranging from mathematics to drone training and everything in between. Math, social studies, language arts, reading and science courses are all offered.

Students attend courses for two-week blocks and then move on to another, allowing each student to experience six courses throughout the span of the summer. This summer session ran from June 4 through June 29, four days less than last year’s program.

The summer session works as a way to continue teaching throughout the summer, while also giving early childhood students important preparation for the school year ahead. 

Last year, at almost every school in the district, summer testing scores doubled or at least raised by more than 15 percent. At the middle school, for instance, summer school students started the session by answering 182 questions correctly overall. At the end of the session, the students answered 888 questions overall.

Hayes said that testing took place again this year and the scores are currently being documented. He said he’s hoping for another summer of improved test scores from students in the summer session.

He added that this year’s preparation and execution went smoothly thanks to the students and teachers knowing what to expect from the program.  

“All in all, it went very well.,” Hayes said. 

The district is still calculating specific numbers on the summer session. In the meantine, Hayes said, he’s monitoring the delivery of the cash cards to students closely. He said he hopes to avoid any problems, especially after last year’s delay in delivery.