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Summer Academic Recovery Program Achieves Goals; 2020-21 Report Card Data Reflects Pandemic Instructional Challenges

Looking ahead to the most ambitious summer learning and academic recovery program in school district history, Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD) Federal Programs School Coordinator Brian Gibbons and his colleagues anxiously awaited the arrival of more than 2,000 students who had accepted invitations to attend a six-week elementary program. While the goal was to attract all students who had enrolled, the majority of more than 1,600 students who did attend the summer program displayed quality growth in reading and math.

“This past summer we set out to provide learning opportunities to help offset learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prevent learning loss that could take place during the summer break. The Summer Academic Recovery Program enabled us to achieve these goals,” stated ACPSD Federal Programs School Coordinator Brian Gibbons.

The comprehensive summer program was designed to accomplish the following goals at the elementary, middle, and high school instructional levels:

-Provide catch-up growth for targeted students as a result of the pandemic.
-Offer content and credit recovery for secondary grade levels.
-Provide exploration and enrichment opportunities for interested and eligible students.

In total, around 20% of the District’s students, including students in the arts (acGATEWAY, special needs students, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students, and more, participated in a dedicated summer learning experience, whether for academic recovery, acceleration, or enrichment.

The Summer Academic Recovery Program provided the professional expertise of 444 teachers and  support of 251 staff members to 4,016 students to facilitate academic and service achievements:

Students who participated in the summer Aiken County Virtual Academy session achieved an overall passing percentage of 96.5%.
Special Programs’ Extended School Year provided summer Individual Education Plan (IEP) academic and social/behavioral services in one-to-one and small group settings to measure specific skills.

A total of 896 high school academic recovery students earned 912 credits, leading to 32 Summer Graduates and 64 additional passing Algebra 1 End Of Course (EOC) Scores.

The middle school Summer Academic Recovery Program featured a total of 629 participants with 558 students (over 88%) successfully completing required courses. 

Summer elementary academic recovery program data also illustrated the importance of good student attendance. Elementary students who demonstrated consistent attendance displayed higher levels of growth in math in grades K-5, and in most elementary grade levels in reading.

Gibbons says the Summer Academic Recovery Program facilitated important academic recovery and growth in key core subject areas for many elementary students.

“A majority of elementary students experienced growth in the areas of math and reading. This allowed them to begin the 2021-2022 school year prepared for success,” commented Gibbons. “Thanks to the commitment of participating teachers, students, and support staff, this program was a successful step toward recovering the loss of instructional time for students due to the pandemic.”

Summer school learning


During the 2020-21 school year Aiken County Public Schools posted a very strong graduation rate for the fourth consecutive year at 90.5% while also displaying higher performance levels of college and career readiness than the South Carolina state average. The District’s English language learners also performed at a higher-than-average rate when compared with students statewide.

Disruption of the school district’s face-to-face instructional model for much of the 2020-21 school year also provided many challenges illustrated in student academic achievement data. Testing data from the 2020-21 school year provides the District with focus areas for future growth.

“We know a return to pre-pandemic academic performance for many students will take time,” commented Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence. “The most recent report card data is not flattering in many areas, but it’s important that we have this information to guide how and where we allocate resources to best support student needs.”


ACPSD Communications Department