Elementary summer school program no longer offered

The Liberty Central School District will be cancelling its summer learning program for elementary school students and will use those funds to hire a kindergarten Academic Intervention Services (AIS) teacher to offer stronger reading support to all kindergarten students during the school year.

The new AIS teacher will providing reading intervention for Liberty’s youngest students during the entire school year, explained Dr. Augustine E. Tornatore. “This will provide a solid foundation and assist them as they strive to be on the appropriate reading level through elementary school and beyond.

Please read on for a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the summer learning program’s cancellation.

Q: What is an Academic Intervention Service and how will that help my kindergartener?

A: Academic Intervention Services (AIS) are services designed to help students achieve the learning standards in English language arts and mathematics in grades K-12 and social studies and science in grades 4-12.

These services include two components:

  • additional instruction that supplements the general curriculum (regular classroom instruction); and/or
  • student support services needed to address barriers to improved academic performance.

Q: What will the new AIS teacher at the elementary school focus on?

A: The unfortunate truth is that once a student falls behind in reading, it is unlikely that he or she will catch up to their grade-appropriate level(s.)

The kindergarten AIS teacher will provide targeted intervention while it is still possible for students to catch up to their peers. When responded to with the proper procedures, this early identification can have a meaningful impact on student achievement.

It is the district’s goal that by addressing and stopping the learning gap that begins to grow in the kindergarten year, the elementary school will be able to better service AIS students throughout elementary school years, leading to success and confidence in middle and high school and beyond.

While not an exhaustive list, the AIS kindergarten teacher will pay specific attention and supports to letter identification, sound identification, rhyming words and high frequency words. The teacher will also offer classes to parents for the purposes of continuing the learning at home.

Q: What about students who are in first through fourth grade and need assistance with their reading?

A: These students will still receive AIS instruction and support. Our current first through fourth grade AIS teachers have an AIS caseload that ranges from 30 to 50 students (the recommended max is 20 students.) The new AIS teacher will help divvy up that caseload, giving students a benefit of more personalized instruction.


Q: Does dropping the elementary summer school program affect decisions on whether to hold a student back a grade?

A: Dropping the program will not affect decisions on whether to hold a student back a grade or advance them. The real goal of summer school is to try to prevent summer learning loss. The school will not retain students because it will not be offering summer school this year.

Q: Wasn’t the elementary summer school effective in preventing the summer slide?

A:  “Summer slide” is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Students who attended our summer program did not show the improvement teachers and administrators had hoped when they returned to school the following year. Now, the district will take a year off to examine how to improve the program. A committee of both grade-level directors and those with expertise in specific subject areas will look at models in other districts to decide how to retool the school’s literacy program so that it serves more students more effectively year-round.

An elementary school student that compared the impact of summer school intervention to AIS reading intervention indicated that the impact of AIS intervention was greater than the impact of summer school intervention and if these same children continue with AIS intervention throughout the year, their reading levels should continue to advance. Details from the study are below:

Student progress (from spring to fall) for students who attended summer school:

  • 21 percent advanced at least one reading level
  • 49 percent maintained reading level
  • 30 percent decreased at least one reading levelStudent progress (from fall to winter) for student who received AIS instruction:
  • 65 percent advanced at least one reading level
  • 32 percent maintained reading level
  • 3 percent decreased at least one reading level

Q: Wasn’t the elementary summer school program widely attended?

A: Last year, 210 elementary school students signed up for the summer school program. Of those 210, only 132 attended the full 16-day program. There was an 18 percent average daily absence rate.

Q: I have more questions that are unanswered. What can I do?

A: Please send your questions to Dr. Tornatore at ATornatore@libertyk12.org. Your answer will be addressed and also posted to this webpage.