Education: Summer for Learning

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In Shorewood, Wis. last week, 40% of the town's 2,400 schoolchildren—from kindergarten to twelfth grade—were in classrooms instead of on vacation. Said one delighted teacher: "Our kids use summer for learning—and have fun at the same time."

The same idea has suddenly cropped up across the nation: an estimated 50% of all urban school districts in the operate summer schools. One-fourth of Los Angeles' 200,000 secondary school youngsters are studying this summer, more than twice as many as five years ago.

One-third of Chicago's high schoolers are doing the same, a fourfold rise since 1955. In some Northeast suburbs, considerably more than half of all teen-agers are in summer school. Everywhere, the trend is from makeup work to advanced courses, often given without credit. ¶At Denver's East High School, a chemistry student does a year's work in eight weeks, and grades are issued every Monday morning. Three consecutive failures mean dismissal, but only twelve students out of 1,629 have failed. Denver is so satisfied with such performance that it may well go into an eleven-month year for all high school students. ¶At Newton (Mass.) High School, 164 teen-agers from ten towns around Boston tackle a six-week summer telescoping of a full year's work in one subject, from biology to history. Another 710 children are in summer elementary and junior high school classes. Courses are taught by "master teachers" recruited from across the U.S. by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Chief aim: to train ap prentice teachers. Students are no problem; Newton's summer program has twice as many applicants as places. ¶At North Haven (Conn.) High School, Yale has another teacher-training session, and 402 students from 59 schools are the beneficiaries. They get no credit, but after Yale's master teachers get through with them, colleges are unlikely to ig nore their experience.

At Clayton High School, near St. Louis. 358 students from 75 schools are at the Mark Twain Summer Institute, launched last year to give brainy youngsters work they cannot get in regular schools. Most popular course: English literature and composition. Mark Twain's students get no credit, focus on one subject, from Greek to behavioral sciences. Most of them do two or three hours of homework daily. Says one girl: "At school we were looked on as the brains and sort of set apart. It's nice to be normal again." ¶At Lincoln Junior High School in Santa Monica, Calif., once known more as a football factory than a citadel of learning, 23 bright seventh-graders are carrying on a remarkable talent-prodding plan begun this spring. The aim: to produce youngsters who can hit the college junior level by the junior year of high school. Between lectures on data processing, Lincoln's 23 youngsters learn the care and feeding of a complex computer, assign it to such matters as the house system at Monte Carlo. Says their teacher, a crack Rand Corp. mathematician: "These kids are frightening. They outdo college students I've taught. At their age, I could barely count."

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