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Texas students take summer school on vacation

LONGVIEW, Texas — Summer school was only weeks away when a Pine Tree High School math teacher noticed that a low number of students had signed up for geometry and only a few had enrolled in algebra.

She knew enrollment wasn’t high enough to hold separate classes for each, but she didn’t want to cancel the classes.

Her solution?

“She decided to use Educational Options’ Web-based Novel™ courses and have them accessible to all math students,” said Debbie Connor, director of academic achievement for the Pine Tree Independent School District.

Novel, a library of more than 39 Web-based core and elective courses available from anywhere with an Internet connection, was a perfect fit.

By using Novel, any Pine Tree High student needing to recover credits or accelerate their progress in certain courses could now take the classes they needed, regardless of demand for the subject.

“Now they can complete their courses in a variety of ways— which is a
“win-win” situation for the student, school district, and community.”

This flexibility also eased attendance issues.

Previously, summer school students could only miss one day of class. With Novel, students could now keep their summer jobs and vacation with their families; even work on their courses during their trips, Connor said.

While many students thought the online courses would be easier, Connor said one of her teachers discovered otherwise.

After the teacher did a thorough comparison of the concepts in Novel’s curriculum versus the curriculum taught in Pine Tree High’s traditional classrooms, she found that students are “getting relatively the same curriculum, whether it’s at their own pace with Novel courses or in a regular classroom setting,” Connor said.

Pine Tree’s unique summer school model quickly caught the eye of local media outlets, resulting in newspaper articles and broadcast news reports about the program. Several students outside of the district even contacted administrators to ask if they could sign up.

“As an education society, we’re constantly trying to adapt instructional strategies to match student learning styles,” Connor said. “We continue to maintain high expectations for all of our students, but now they can complete their courses in a variety of ways— which is a “win-win” situation for the student, school district, and community.”

Pine Tree Independent School District Longview, Texas District Size: 4,577 students

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